Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Richard Bruton

Question:

1016 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the individual who will be the arbitrar of the level of resource teaching support and child care support which a specific child requires; if this decision will be open to appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2119/99]

Richard Bruton

Question:

1017 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if a circular letter has been issued to all schools outlining the precise basis on which they can exercise the automatic right of children with special needs to obtain resource teaching support and care support as appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2120/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1016 and 1017 together.

The level of resource teaching support and-or child care support made available in any individual special needs case will be determined by a number of factors, including recommendations contained in psychological assessment reports and other specialist reports; the nature and degree of disability involved; the level of academic attainment of the particular child; the resources currently available to the school to address special needs and the care requirements of the pupil.
My Department's inspectorate will review all documentation supplied by schools to support their applications for additional resources and will recommend a level of resource teaching support and-or child care support, having regard to all the above factors. My Department's special education section will sanction the support services to meet the assessed level of need. My Department will consider any appeal which may arise as a result of resource allocations made under the above arrangements. Any such appeal will be considered on the merits of the individual case involved.
A draft circular and an information note are currently being finalised in my Department and it is hoped that these will issue to all schools before the end of February 1999. These documents will contain information for schools on how to apply for appropriate resource teaching and-or child care support for pupils with special educational needs arising from disabilities.

Richard Bruton

Question:

1018 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is no curriculum for children with mild intellectual disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2121/99]

The curriculum for children with a mild intellectual disability is devised by indiviudual schools having regard to factors such as the assessed needs of the children. The Report of the Special Education Review Committee recommended that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment should set up curriculum development projects for pupils with disabilities and special educational needs.. Curriculum guidelines for children with mild intellectual disabilities are being developed at present by the National Council for Curriculum Assessment.

Richard Bruton

Question:

1019 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the estimates, if any, he has carried out of the need for such therapists and for psychologists in order to provide the necessary back-up for children with special education needs; if he has identified the shortfall in relation to these children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2122/99]

The need nationally for backup for students with special educational needs by psy chologists was one of the issues investigated by the planning group for the National Educational Psychological Service whose report was published during September of last year. The planning group used estimates from the Report of the Special Education Review Committee, 1993, data provided by the Department of Health and Children and the findings from epidemiological studies carried out in other jurisdictions.

The new National Educational Psychological Service will work in close collaboration with the psychological services provided by the health boards and by those voluntary agencies which specialise in providing support for certain categories of special need. Together, they will collect information as to how much in the way of psychological support is needed by students with special educational needs. There is a commitment in the report of the planning group to giving priority for students in this category. These is also provision for continuous review and for a detailed report, at the end of the initial five year period, of the demand for services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

1020 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has in relation to the development of a more structured education at second level for children with special education needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2123/99]

My Department's policy is that, where practicable, second level children with special needs should be integrated into ordinary second level schools. Additional supports are provided to schools to cater for the needs of the pupils concerned. These supports include the allocation of additonal teaching resources and, where appropriate, funding towards the cost of specialised equipment. I should add that my Department is currently reviewing its overall structures in the area of special education with a view to ensuring an appropriate provision across all sectors.