25 April 2018

ASD Announcement

ASD Facility at Skerries Educate Together National School.


The Board of Management of Skerries Educate Together School wishes to announce that it has sought sanction from the National Council for Special Educational Needs to open a school-age facility for children who have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. This sanction was approved on 3rd April 2018. The Board must now move on to applying for the appropriate funding and, if this is granted, then proceed to overseeing the building of this facility commencing with sourcing suppliers and architects, agreeing draft plans, and applying for planning permission.

The Board recognises the difficulties faced by families within Skerries and indeed the wider area in seeking appropriate places for their children. There is undoubtedly a crisis emerging in relation to availability of school places for children in the area. The Board has every sympathy for the plight in which parents find themselves in not being able to access school places for their young children. It is hoped that when this facility has been built it will function as a robust and effective learning environment that caters appropriately for these children.

It is envisaged that when fully up and running this facility will have four classes. This will bring the number of classes catering specifically for children with ASD at Skerries Educate Together to a total of six when both Pre-school classes at Seolta are included. Classes will be opened on a phased basis.  

The decision to seek sanction for this has come about as a result of ongoing deliberations over the past two school years. The Board has already ensured that all teachers at Skerries Educate Together, during this period, have spent time both in Seolta and other school-age ASD facilities. This was envisaged as an important component in informing staff and the Board about the challenges and merits of proceeding with such an important development at our school. It is the vision of the Board that any facility provided for children with ASD would be of the highest standard. In this regard we aspire to building on the success of Seolta and providing a physical environment of equal quality. Of equal importance, we also seek to support an ongoing culture of appropriately trained and committed staff.

It is hoped that this facility will have been completed by September 2020. If it is completed before this time the Board will consider opening it at an earlier date. In recent weeks the Board has been approached by parents understandably seeking a facility to be provided for this coming school year. The Board, which has legal responsibility for any decisions it takes, did not see this as feasible. It would not have allowed for the appropriate preparation for establishing such a facility in all areas of concern. It would have been reckless and negligent of the Board to commit to something that it could not stand over as high quality with having had the required time for meaningful planning and preparation.

When fully functioning, assuming that funding is granted, this facility will be one of the largest of its kind to be part of a mainstream school in Ireland. This is therefore an exciting development not just for our school but for the area as a whole. We seek and look forward to support from our own school community and all others interested, or associated with ongoing delivery of education to children with ASD in Skerries and the wider area.