Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (359, 360)

Jack Wall

Question:

467 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the application of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare for a special needs assistant in view of the fact that the pupil has been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1598/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has approved five hours resource teaching support together with special needs assistant support for the pupil in question. A letter to this effect issued to the pupil's school on 22 January 2004.

Jack Wall

Question:

468 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science when a special needs assistant will be provided for a student enrolled at Scoil Mhicil Naofa, Athy, County Kildare, in view of the need for such assistance due to the child's medical background; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1600/04]

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My Department has received a number of applications for special educational resources, SER, from the school referred to by the Deputy, including an application for the pupil in question. 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 during 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.

Question No. 469 answered with QuestionNo. 374.