Danu Community Special School still lacking vital facilitiesGary Ibbotson 09 Feb 2023
Danu Community Special School in Dublin 15 is still lacking basic facilities infrastructure over two years after opening.
That’s according to local Senator Emer Currie who was speaking in the Seanad last week.
Senator Currie said the school’s current location, in Rath Dara Community College “is not appropriate accommodation.
“This is the first special school that has been built in 15 years by the Department of Education, the first special school in Dublin 15 and DDLETB’s first special school, but it is not what should be,” she said.
“It does not have the purpose-built accommodation tailored to the complex needs of the school that is required and it does not show the ambition these children deserve.
“It does not fit with the vision we all hoped for when we campaigned for this school.
“When I use the term “we”, I mean the parents and school community in Dublin 15.”
Senator Currie said that she recently visited the school and found that “teachers are burning a lot of energy doing things they should not have to do.
“The accommodation is not wheelchair accessible and the students do not have an appropriate outdoor sensory space similar to those present at many other schools,” she said.
“There is hoarding around the outdoor space and a lot of noise from traffic.
“The classrooms are not of a suitable size.
“There is not enough space to design a flow that accommodates the needs of children,” she said.
“There is supposed to be a living space like a kitchen or a mini-apartment but it is tiny.
“The school does not have facilities of its own, such as an assembly room or outdoor facilities.
“It does not even know where the perimeter of its outdoor space is.”
Senator Currie says that due to the school’s size, with 36 children and 40 staff, the funding and supports it receives from the Special Education Review Committee (SERC) is limited.
“The school has one special education teacher and two special needs assistants, SNAs, per class. That is the same as a special class.
“Where is the special status that should be attached to a special school?
“The principal is in charge of 40 staff but, because there are only six teachers, she does not get the supports she should have for managing 40 people.
“It is severely restricted.”
In response, speaking on behalf of Minster for State for Special Education Josepha Madigan, Minister Thomas Byrne said this year the Department of Education will spend “in excess of €2.6 billion, or 27% of its budget, on providing additional teaching and care supports for children with special educational needs.
“There will be an additional 686 teachers and a further 1,194 SNAs in our schools next year,” he says.