I propose to take Questions Nos. 863, 865, 896 to 900 inclusive, 902, 933, 989, 991, 1000, 1021 and 1023.
The educational needs of pupils with specific learning disability, including dyslexia, are generally capable of being met within the ordinary school system, with the assistance, where appropriate, of the remedial teacher service.
Fully qualified primary school teachers are trained to deal with a variety of reading problems, including those which are accompanied by perceptual difficulties. In addition the special training programme for remedial teachers includes a module on specific learning disability. There are at present a total of 1,302 remedial teachers serving 2,487 primary schools; 37 of these posts serve 116 primary schools in County Mayo. I recently announced my decision to extend the remedial teacher service to all first and second level schools with effect from September 1999.
Second level pupils with specific learning disability are normally integrated into ordinary classes where they may receive additional support through the remedial teacher, guidance counsellor and subject teachers. Such pupils may also be eligible for special arrangements in the certificate examinations.
Where more serious cases of difficulty arise, provision is made in one of four special schools and seven special classes dedicated to such children. These special facilities operate at a reduced pupil teacher ratio of 11:1.
I am not aware of any dyslexic support centres in County Mayo. However, I understand that my Department does not currently have any application for the establishment of a special class to cater for such children in the Mayo area. Any such application would receive positive consideration in my Department.
My Department has received representations for funding support from the dyslexic support centre in Limerick. In 1998, my Department allocated a once-off grant of £14,000 to this centre. In 1998 my Department also allocated grant assistance of £38,000 to the Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities, ACLD, to assist in their administration service and to facilitate access to workshops and summer schools for children from disadvantaged areas. However, it is not my intention that my Department should become involved in the ongoing funding of such centres which are developed on a private basis. To the extent that resources become available, the priority focus will be on supporting the development of in-school services for such children.