Many of the functions of school principals provided for in this legislation simply reflect the current work of principals. However, I am conscious that the Bill will effect a significant change in the management of special educational needs.
For this reason, I have included an amendment on Committee Stage which restates the principal's right to delegate any of his or her functions to members of the teaching staff or other employees of the school as he or she sees fit. The amendment also requires the special educational needs organiser to assist principals and teachers in carrying out their functions under the Bill. In addition, I have been careful to provide for an implementation period of up to five years for all provisions of the Bill. This will ensure that the national council for special education will have adequate time to consider the implications of the Bill on all the stakeholders, including boards of management, teachers and principals. The council also has power to make recommendations to me, including recommendations on the resources that will have to be made available so that duties under the Bill can be fulfilled.
Finally, section 12 of the Bill, for the first time, places a statutory duty on the Ministers for Education and Science, Health and Children and Finance to make resources available to schools for the provision of adequate and appropriate education to children with special educational needs. In making policy determinations regarding the resources to be made available to implement education plans, the Ministers must have regard to key principles, including the need for equitable treatment of all children, and that it is the objective of the Bill that it will lead to the creation of an education system which gives to children with disabilities the same opportunity for development through education as is given to children who do not have disabilities.