The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has said that the Action Plan for Education, published, by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, marks a significant step in making our education system accessible to all children.
“The publication of an Action Plan for Education, without a doubt, signifies a commitment and an intent on behalf of Government to reform the education sector. This is very much to be welcomed, but action will be the key word I will be focussing on in this plan.
“I am very pleased to see that a number of the recommendations, including a focus on early education and the introduction of measure to support wellbeing in schools made by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, have been included in the final plan.
“I would urge Government to leave no stone unturned to ensure that wellbeing measures are well resourced. This new culture will enhance not only the mental health of the school community, but undoubtedly the academic achievements of the student body.
“The establishment of a new Inclusion Support Service for children with special educational needs is a positive development. It is important that this service supports children with disabilities to access education, and to transition from preschool to primary and beyond.
“The Ombudsman for Children’s Office in accordance with Article 2 of the UNCRC objects to a derogation permitting schools to admit students on the basis of religion. Plans to increase the number of non-denominational and multi-denominational schools, while welcome, does not address this issue.
“A Parent and Student Charter has been long called for by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office so I am delighted to see that its development has been included. I also look forward to discussions about the role of the Ombudsman for Children in developing local decision making and accountability to parents.
“Having dealt with thousands of complaints in relation to education over the years, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office is familiar with the barriers and obstacles that exist within the education sector. I commend the Minister for the focus on increasing access to education, however the necessary resources will be needed to fund this very ambitious plan.”