Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (191, 192)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

271 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will make special one-to-one tuition available to a person (details supplied) who suffers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. [6877/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

I can confirm that my Department has received 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 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 of these cases were responded to before or soon after 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.

The arrangements for processing applications received after the 31 August 2003, including the application for the pupil in question, will be considered in the context of the outcome of discussions on a weighted system of allocation of resource teaching support. A further communication will be sent to schools in this regard.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

272 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science , further to Question No. 315 of 3 February 2004, if his attention has been drawn to the extra resource hours that have only meant an extra one class in maths for a student (details supplied); and if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that this student, who is exempt from Irish, is spending five class periods per week in a study hall without any extra one-to-one tuition being supplied; if he will intervene with the school to discuss this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6935/04]

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My Department allocates resource teaching support and special needs assistants support to second level schools and vocational educational committees to cater for students with special educational needs. Applications for such support are made to my Department by the relevant school authority or VEC. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupil(s) involved and the nature and level of support provided is determined on the advice of the psychological service.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school in question has been allocated additional resource teacher support to address the needs of the student in question and a number of other students with special educational needs attending the school. The school authorities have been notified accordingly.

The level of resource teaching allocated to the school in question by the Department was determined after detailed consideration of the school's application, the supporting documentation provided, including the recommendations made by the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, and having regard to the overall level of resources already available to the school to address special needs issues. Regard was also had to the desirability of delivering support services for children with special needs on a group basis wherever possible.

The Department allocates resource teaching hours to the school to cater for the special needs pupils attending and it is a matter for the school to deploy this allocation having regard to the assessed needs of the individual students involved. Schools should also review this deployment in line with the evolving needs of the students.

If the school authority is of the view that its existing approved allocation is incapable of addressing the current level of assessed special needs, including those of the pupil in question, within the school, the Department will be prepared to consider the school's case.