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Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan, visited the new special school in Carrigaline on Monday morning and had high praise for Cork Education and Training Board for their long-standing commitment to inclusion and ensuring the educational development of all students under its patronage.

 

Minister Madigan visited Carrigaline Community Special School to meet with and speak to the new school’s 32 students in both primary and post primary education. In addition to this, the Minister also met with the school’s six teachers and 15 Special Needs Assistants and said she was highly impressed with the resources and facilities at the school which opened in September 2021.

 

She said: “I am really pleased to be able to visit Carrigaline Community Special School today. This newly opened special school is already playing a vital role in the area by supporting young people and families who may not have had access to a special school place previously. As Minister, I was delighted to be in a position to approve the opening of this new school last year and I want to acknowledge the efforts of students, parents, and the wider school community who have worked towards this for many years.

 

“Building a new school community takes a lot of work and I can see clearly the positive effects of this work to date. I would like to pay tribute to the ETB as the patron of the new school for their leadership in this area. I also want to thank Principal Colm Manley and all the staff at the school for all that they do.

 

“Our special schools are vital parts of our education system and perform a crucial role. I am determined to continue to support the work of special schools and to ensure they are protected for years to come. The opening of new special schools, such as this one, is a testament to this. The record funding for special education secured in Budget 2022 will ensure the provision of more teachers and special needs assistants in our special schools, as well as additional special school places,” Minister Madigan concluded.

The Department of Education made a significant investment of €2m to convert the previous 10 classroom primary school into a fit for purpose special school, including associated clinician and educational support rooms.

Principal of Carrigaline Community Special School, Colm Manley said the school was “very happy” to welcome Minister Madigan.

He continued. “There is clearly great demand and much appreciation of specialist education provision of this type. It has been no mean feat opening a new school during the pandemic and it is a testament to what can be achieved in a short time once the will is there.

“We are especially appreciative of how well an existing building has been modified to provide a space appropriate to our students. The dual diagnosis of Autism and Learning Disability is a unique one and parenting a child with this diagnosis presents an array of challenges.

“As such, we are very glad that the Minister has given time to meet with our parents, as well as taking the time to visit the school building and meet our excellent staff, and most importantly, our wonderful students,” Mr Manley concluded.

With it’s opening announced on April 12 last year, Carrigaline Community Special School has the capacity to provide 48 school places and can provide for the needs of children with autism and general learning disability up to eighteen years of age.

This school was opened to provide places to students who did not have an offer of a special school place for September 2021 after the Department of Education and the National Council for Special Education engaged with parents, schools, patron bodies and other stakeholders in Cork to address a shortage of specialist school placements for children with special educational needs in the Cork area.

Chief Executive of Cork Education and Training Board Denis Leamy also extended a warm welcome to the Minister.

He said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Minister Madigan today on her first visit to Carrigaline Community Special School and we look forward to continuing to working closely with the Department of Education and other stakeholders to continue to provide high quality special  education and care for all our pupils. We at Cork ETB have a strong commitment to inclusion and recognise the important role that special schools play in our education system. We will continue to carry this tradition and approach to inclusivity and diversity across all of our schools and further education and training facilities.”