That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Education Act 1998 to grant additional functions to the Inspectorate to examine and report to the Minister on the prevalence and standard of individual educational plans for children with special educational needs on an annual basis; and to provide for related matters.
I am sharing time with Deputies Guirke and Ó Laoghaire. The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs, EPSEN, Act was passed in 2004 to ensure that children with additional educational needs could be educated in an inclusive setting and that all children would have the right to be educated in a mainstream school unless it would not be in the best interest of the child or the effective provision of education for other children in mainstream education. Yet 17 years later, many sections of the Act have not been implemented and one such section is the requirement for individual education plans, IEPs. Under the Act each child assessed with a special educational need should have a personal education plan. However, there is currently no date for the implementation of IEPs. In many countries this is underpinned by law. I am aware many teachers prepare IEPs for their students but that is not compulsory and not inspected. There are guidelines on how to prepare a plan on the National Council for Special Education website. They have been there since 2004 when it was fully expected that the Act would be implemented.
An IEP is a written document prepared for a named student and it specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time, as well as the teaching strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve those goals. This should be prepared by the school in consultation with the student, if possible, and with the parents and other stakeholders such as a therapist the student may be attending. This Bill asks that this section of the EPSEN Act be implemented as soon as possible. We seek to amend the Education Act 1998 to grant additional functions to the inspectorate, to examine and report to the Minister on the prevalence and standard of IEPs for children with special educational needs annually, and to provide for related matters.