Campaign to save the in-school Speech & language Therapy Support for Holy Family School for the Deaf
Category : Post Primary
Principal Eimear O’Rourke was notified by the HSE that due to the re-organisation of services for children with special needs, Holy Family is to lose our in-school Speech & Language Therapist.
Our Speech & Language Therapist is funded by the HSE and has working in the school for over 10 years.
Her work is very important in supporting our pupils to development language both ISL and speech. She is the only SLT in Ireland who has the competence to carry out specific Irish Sign Language assessments for Deaf students who communicate through ISL.
All pupils need SLT support at some stage during their time in Holy Family. Our SLT also works closely with our teachers and parents.
Under the new HSE Model of support our pupils must go outside the school to access Speech & Language Therapy. Only 6/140 will access this support close to the school – from the local Children’s Disability Network Team CDNT. All other children must get this support close to their home address- i.e. in their own local HSE primary care centre.
This loss is huge for our school because:
- The loss of specialist SLT provision in deafness. Our pupils will receive SLT from therapists with little or no experience of deafness and who have no training in deaf communication. This unjustly forces parents into the role of educator and often interpreter. Pupils and Deaf parents who require ISL interpreting support to access SLT in the Community will be disadvantaged due to the limited availability of ISL interpreters nationally.
- Poor access to SLT services nationally: Our pupils will be forced onto the current excessively long caseloads waiting lists for Primary Care SLT.. This may mean less time with the Speech & Language Therapist
- Loss of school time as pupils in Holy Family travel long distances daily on school transport or are boarding it will not be possible for them to attend appointments without missing school time. This seriously disadvantages our pupils and will impact negatively on their educational outcomes. Our pupils access the mainstream curricula at primary and post primary level and must be enabled to achieve equal terms with their hearing peers.
- Loss of teacher training and support & family training and support– Over 50% of our in- school SLT’s time is dedicated to this support. By your own admission you will be only able to provide ‘some in-school supports and training’ We will be forced to compete for this support with other school settings and with no guarantee that the clinician will have any competence to deliver in our specialist setting.
- Equity with other specialist education settings: why is our school and schools for the deaf to lose out under this new model of provision? Some non -deaf specialist education settings have been allowed to retain their clinicians and have been afforded the opportunity to present their case for continued support.
- Lack of consultation and evidence- based data: The HSE has not provide evidenced based data on how community-based Speech & Language therapy is preferable to the current in-school model of provision. The lack of consultation with parents of deaf children and experts in the specialism is unacceptable and leaves this group of children highly vulnerable to education disadvantage.
The Campaign must continue until the HSE give a commitment that they will continue to fund an in-school SLT for Holy Family.
Thank you for your support to date. I will keep you updated and informed on our progress.
ISL Translation of the Open Letter below