Minister for Education says no cut to visiting teacher service for visually or hearing impaired

Friday 24 January 2014 14.57
Ruairi Quinn said the review is not about a reduction in services
Ruairi Quinn said the review is not about a reduction in services

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said there is no suggestion that a special teaching service for children with visual or hearing impairments will be discontinued or reduced.

The Department of Education is currently carrying out a review of the service.

This has led to strong concern among parents and schools that the scheme will be cut.

The visiting teacher service caters for the needs of up to 2,300 children who are visually or hearing impaired.

It employs 46 teachers who support children from birth and through their school years.

In a reply to a parliamentary question from People Before Profit Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett earlier this week, the minister said the outcome of the report needed to be seen before any decision was made.

However, speaking to RTÉ News today, Mr Quinn said he could assure parents that the review was not about a reduction in services or about saving money.

Meanwhile, Mr Quinn has urged schools to avail of a new scheme that could enable them to cut their electricity costs by between 10% and 15%.

The initiative is being run by the Office of Government Procurement.

It has bulk bought energy from electricity companies, so schools that join the initiative can avail of a much cheaper rate.

The minister said schools who wanted to be involved should check the Department of Education's website for the relevant form.

Around 1,700 schools across the country have been included in the scheme and potential savings of around €1 million are estimated.

Speaking at Inchicore National School this morning, Mr Quinn said it was a great opportunity for schools to make significant savings.

He said schools had been asked to do more with less due to the economic situation, but this initiative will allow schools to make "large savings on energy costs" by simply filling in a form.