Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Pat Carey

Question:

876 Mr. P. Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science if the application for a computer for a person (details supplied) with special needs in St. Brigid's national school, Holy Faith Convent, Glasnevin, Dublin 11, will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28337/98]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that on 14 December 1998 my Department allocated funding of £1,500 to the school in question. This funding was allocated to facilitate the purchase of computer equipment for the pupil referred to by the Deputy.

Michael Noonan

Question:

879 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will reconsider his decision to abolish the protocol under which correctors of examination scripts offered favourable treatment to students suffering from dyslexia; if he will reintroduce a more focused protocol for these persons whose dyslexia is vouched for by the school principal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28353/98]

It is not the case that examiners were ever in a position to offer favourable treatment to students suffering from specific learning difficulties including dyslexia. For any one subject a common marking scheme is applied to the work of all candidates taking the subject. This is to ensure that all candidates at an examination are treated in a fair and consistent manner and are measured according to a common standard.

It is the case, however, that my Department fully recognises that where a candidate has a specific learning difficulty this may give rise to difficulties with the presentation and ultimate readability of material presented for examination.

Traditionally where a concern has been expressed regarding the readability of material, this has been brought to the attention of the individual examiner. However, in the event of an examiner encountering difficulty in reading the script, the examiner is instructed to send the answerbook to his or her supervising examiner. This is to ensure that notwithstanding any presentation or readability difficulties every effort is made by the examiner or supervising examiner to ensure that the candidate is given full credit for all work done.

This year my Department has moved to strengthen this arrangement by instructing all examiners who have a difficulty in accessing the information given by a candidate to refer the script to their supervising examiner. The intention is to ensure that problems with readability whether or not brought to the attention of the Department are dealt with by the examiner and that no candidate is disadvantaged.

The change is operational in nature and as I have already explained does not involve any change in the actual marking of examination material submitted by students with specific learning difficulties. Every effort will continue to be made to ensure that full credit is given for work presented and in 1999 examiners will, as in previous years, be required to apply the agreed marking schemes consistently to all candidates in order to ensure equity and fairness.