Adjournment Matter. - Appointment of Remedial Teacher.

I thank the Minister for coming to the House to discuss this important issue. Thomastown national school in Golden, County Tipperary, applied to the Department of Education and Science for a remedial teacher ten years ago. There has been much correspondence between the Department, the school board of management and the school principal since then. At times the school was led to believe it would be given a remedial teacher in the not too distance future, but that did not happen.

People in the locality are concerned about this issue. A 14 year old child, who is now in secondary school, left the school without receiving any help, although the inspectors believed he needed help at six years of age. That is disgraceful in this day and age. The school needs a remedial teacher. I ask the Minister to ensure that a remedial teacher is appointed to this small rural school.

As has been indicated to the House in the past, remedial education at primary level is a matter in the first instance for class teachers. The majority of pupils with remedial needs would, therefore, be helped within the scope of the normal teaching service. However, it is acknowledged that remedial teachers constitute the main additional resource for addressing the problem of under-achievement in primary schools.

We recently allocated 60 remedial teacher posts to national schools with effect from September last. There are now 1,302 remedial teacher posts in place in national schools. It is estimated that 91 per cent of primary school pupils attend schools which are served by a remedial teacher. Of the 166 primary schools in County Tipperary, 105 schools have the services of a remedial teacher either on a full-time or shared basis. This means that 78 per cent of primary school pupils in County Tipperary have access to a remedial teacher.

Our capacity to allocate additional remedial teacher posts in any given year is dependent on resource availability and the level of competing demand from other special needs areas. We must consider demands for improved services across a wide range of special needs. It is, unfortunately, the case that we are not always in a position to meet all these demands. We must decide priorities and try to allocate available resources to best effect.

I assure the Senator that the needs of Thomastown national school will be fully considered in the context of any additional remedial teacher allocations which may be undertaken. As the Minister for Finance prepares his budget and as we prepare for the year ahead, every consideration will be given to Thomastown national school when we allocate new teacher positions in the coming year.

The Seanad adjourned at 8.40 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday, 26 November 1998.