I propose to take Questions Nos. 261 to 263, inclusive, together.
I intend to ensure that all children, including children with ASDs, receive education appropriate to their needs. All children with special education needs within the primary school system, including children with ASDs, have an automatic entitlement to a response to their needs.
The special educational needs of children with ASD can be addressed in special dedicated schools, in special dedicated classes attached to ordinary schools, or on an integrated basis in ordinary schools. Decisions regarding the most appropriate model of response in each particular case are based on the professionally assessed needs of the individual child.
Many children at primary school level, with disorders on the autistic spectrum, are capable of attending ordinary schools on an integrated basis with the support, where necessary, of resource teachers and/or special needs assistants.
Where the level of the condition is of a more serious nature, provision is made by way of special schools or special classes attached to ordinary schools. All such facilities receive enhanced capitation grants and operate at a maximum pupil-teacher ratio of 6:1. Special needs assistant support is also provided where required. At present there are 115 such classes for pupils with autism in the primary system. This includes three special classes for pupils with Asperger syndrome which is on the autistic spectrum.
My Department allocates additional resources to individual second-level schools to cater for special needs pupils enrolled in those schools. Applications for resources are referred to the national educational psychological service and each case is considered on its merits.