Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (105, 106)

John Cregan


102 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will respond to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11 and their recent request for classroom assistants, at least on a pilot basis to see if these children can be kept within the educational system which will result in an obvious benefit to them and to society as a whole. [2549/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

My Department allocates resource teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools to cater for students with special educational needs, including those who have been assessed as having serious behavioural or emotional disorders. Applications for such support are made to my Department by the relevant school authorities. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupil(s) concerned and the nature and level of support provided is determined on the advice of the psychological service.

I understand that no application for additional special needs assistant support has been received by my Department from the school to which the Deputy refers. Any such application will be fully considered by my Department.

Paul Kehoe


103 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of the application for resource hours for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2550/04]

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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 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.