The INTO has described the planned cut in special teacher support as an outrageous dismantling of the special education infrastructure.

The Department of Education is to cut special teacher support for over 500 primary school children with learning disabilities.

In all, 128 special teaching posts will be lost, affecting 534 children in 119 schools across the country. 80 of the schools are designated disadvantaged.

The Department has instructed the schools to shut down special classes for children with mild-learning disabilities because pupil numbers have fallen below the required level.

Some children are eligible to attend a special class because they have been diagnosed with a disability which makes learning very difficult for them.

The Department of Education has written to these schools instructing them to discontinue their special classes from next September.

It says they no longer have the number of eligible pupils required to retain a teacher for this purpose.

The Department says 17 of the schools in disadvantaged areas will be granted an additional teaching post when the pupils involved are divided among mainstream classes.