Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283)

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

387 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the provision of a classroom assistant for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1135/04]

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Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

494 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason three autistic children (details supplied) in County Donegal were left without special needs assistants since September 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1748/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 387 and 494 together.

I can confirm that my Department has received applications for special educational needs supports, SEN, from the school, including the applications for the pupils referred to by the Deputy. The school currently has the services of 18 full-time special needs assistants, SNA, one part-time SNA and one job-sharing SNA post.

SER applications received between 15 February and 31 August 2003, including the one made by this school, are being considered at present. In all, more than 5,000 such applications were received. Priority was given to cases involving children starting school last September and all these cases were responded to at or before the commencement of the current school year.

The balance of more than 4,000 applications has been reviewed by a dedicated team comprising members of my Department's inspectorate and the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS. These applications are being further considered in the context of the outcome of surveys of SER provision conducted over the past year or so. Account is also being taken of the data submitted by schools as part of the recent nationwide census of SER provision.

The processing of the applications is a complex and time-consuming operation. However, my Department is endeavouring to have this completed as quickly as possible and my officials will then respond to all applicant schools. Pending a response, schools are advised to refer to Circular 24/03, which issued in September, 2003. This circular contains practical advice on how to achieve the most effective deployment of resources already allocated for special educational needs within the school.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

388 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sanction an application to set up a CABAS school in south Dublin to cater for children with autism (details supplied). [1136/04]

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Olivia Mitchell

Question:

416 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if a response to the request for funding for a CABAS school in Shankill to cater for south side children will be expedited. [1247/04]

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Eamon Gilmore

Question:

422 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide the funding necessary to establish a CABAS school in south Dublin for children who are affected by autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1307/04]

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Ruairí Quinn

Question:

447 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has received an application from a group of parents that wish to establish a CABAS school in Shankill, County Dublin, to cater for children with special educational needs; if the application is being examined, researched and worked on; if his Department regards the operation of similar schools in Cork, Dublin — Kilbarrack — and Drogheda as successful; if, on the basis of that experience and the details of the parents' submission, he will make the funds available for those children and their parents who wish to have such a school established in the south Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1416/04]

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Barry Andrews

Question:

500 Mr. Andrews asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will support the provision of a school in south Dublin for autistic children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1788/04]

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Joe Higgins

Question:

525 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department will immediately sanction the expansion of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare to provide an appropriate educational environment for autistic children on waiting lists. [1961/04]

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Billy Timmins

Question:

532 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to an application from CABAS in south Dublin; when sanction will be given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2051/04]

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Olivia Mitchell

Question:

577 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will give an early and positive response to the request for funding for a CABAS school to cater for children in south County Dublin. [2247/04]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 388, 416, 422, 447, 500, 525, 532 and 577 together.

I am most anxious that all children, including children with autistic spectrum disorders, receive education appropriate to their needs. My Department is actively considering applications from CABAS, Dublin and Saplings, Kildare, for autistic provision in south County Dublin. My officials are liaising with my Department's inspectorate and the national educational psychological service in this regard. A response will issue to the applicants as quickly as possible.