Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (386)

Michael Ring

Question:

497 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who was approved a special needs assistant in 2003 will receive this help. [1777/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

My Department received an application from the school concerned for resource teaching support for the pupil in question during the period 15 February 2003 to 31 August 2003. My Department has no record of receiving an application from the school for special needs assistant support for this pupil during the same period. 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. 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.