IATSE’s twelfth annual conference was held in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, from 8-10 June 2000- Attended by over 350 people–including teachers, parents, psychologists, social workers–the conference was deemed a great success by all. The conference was officially opened by the Minister of State for Children, Ms Mary Hanafin, TD, and Tim O’Brien gave the keynote address. Tim is Principal tutor (EBD Outreach) in the University of London Institute of Education and his theme was ‘Increasing inclusion: Did anyone mention learning?’
IATSE’s AGM is organised on a system of concurrent sessions, which means that those attending have the choice of five different presentations during each time-slot. This year, for example, on Friday afternoon one could chose a presentation on literacy for children with special needs, or inclusion, circle time, reflection on a teaching life in special education, or horticultural therapy. Sometimes one would have liked to attend all of five sessions at once! Each session consisted of a paper presented by a professional working in the field, with time for questions and comments–even for complaints!
Running alongside the conference, IATSE organised a books and materials exhibition, at which companies involved in providing specialist materials for students with special needs displayed their wares. Delegates always find the exhibition helpful in updating them on the latest available equipment. A poster exhibition of interesting school projects was also mounted. This included videos, photographs and stories, such as a video of wheelchair hurling from St Mary’s School, Baldoyle.
Organising an annual conference is a major task and the IATSE Central Executive Committee and conference committee are already making plans for the 2001 AGM. Like all other organisations involved in special education, we find it difficult to get publicity for our activities. The conference is open to all interested in special education issues and parents are especially welcome to attend. Anyone interested to find out more about IATSE s