Calls for secondary school provision at Limerick's Red Hill

Jan O’Sullivan questions minister over Patrickswell school

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Red Hill School in Patrickswell is ‘doing its best’ on limited resources

Red Hill School in Patrickswell is ‘doing its best’ on limited resources

FORMER Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has called for the provision of full second-level education for autistic children in Limerick following a Dáil question to current minister Richard Bruton.

Labour’s Deputy O’Sullivan asked Minister Bruton for his plans in relation to the provision of secondary education at Patrickswell’s Red Hill school, which currently does not have sufficient resources to offer a full secondary curriculum.

Mr Bruton replied: “Special schools are allocated teaching staff based on their actual current pupil profiles and the disability category of each pupil, as opposed to primarily by school designation.

“It is a matter for school authorities to decide how to deploy this resource to cater for the curricular needs of their students,” he said.

Jan O’Sullivan pointed out that the need for a dedicated secondary school to cater to autistic children in Limerick will grow.

“The problem is that they [Red Hill] just don’t have the numbers to have a proper secondary school.

“But there will be more and more children, obviously there is a growing number of children diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, so my view would be that there really is a need for a secondary school, and I would strongly support a secondary school being planned now for children with autism or children on the autistic spectrum,” she said.

“Whether that be attached to Red Hill or whether it be a separate school, or attached to an existing secondary school… That was what we had started to explore when I was Minister for Education, it doesn’t seem to have progressed much since,” she said.

Ms O’Sullivan said that staff at Red Hill are “doing their best” to cater to the older children, but would benefit from linking with an existing school if a new one isn’t possible.

It had previously been suggested that the school would link with the new secondary in Mungret, a proposal which the TD said she would “strongly support”.

“What the parents of those children really want is that they can, like all other children, progress through second level right up through Junior and Leaving Cert, if appropriate for them, and I would strongly call for that,” she said.