Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

139 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the position with regard to the request of a school (details supplied) in County Wexford for a full time learning support teacher; when the schools six letters to his Department will be responded to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19196/03]

The school referred to by the Deputy currently shares the services of a full-time learning support teacher. In 2000, as part of my Department's reading initiative, learning support guidelines were provided to all schools and were aimed at ensuring that all children achieve appropriate levels of literacy and numeracy during the course of their primary education. The learning support guidelines recommend high levels of co-operation between class teachers, learning support teachers and parents in supporting children who are experiencing learning difficulties. In selecting pupils for remedial education, priority should be given to those pupils who achieve scores at or below the 10th percentile. In order to allow for measurement error, consideration may be given to selecting pupils who achieve scores up to and including the 12th percentile. Once schools are satisfied that the needs of pupils who have very low achievement or serious learning difficulties have been met, a limited degree of flexibility may be exercised in the deployment of the learning support teacher.

The principal teacher has overall responsibility for the school's learning support programme and for the operation of services for children with special educational needs. In addition to learning support teachers, my Department allocates resource teacher posts to cater for the educational needs of children assessed as having disabilities who have been fully integrated into mainstream national schools where there are no other adequate support teaching resources available to the children. My Department issued a response to the school's letters to the chairperson of the board of management on 3 June 2003. I assure the Deputy that the needs of the school will be taken fully into account in the event of additional learning support teacher posts becoming available for distribution.