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Special Educational Needs.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 27 October 2004

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

Questions (39)

Olwyn Enright

Question:

140 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by schools, parents and children due to the new weighted system; if she will make changes to the system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26159/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

The revised system for the allocation of resource teachers comprises both a general allocation for pupils with mild learning disabilities-difficulties and specific allocations for individual pupils with more complex needs. The revised system will put teaching resources permanently in place to meet the needs of children with special needs. The system will greatly reduce the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments. It will also allow for better planning in schools, greater flexibility in identifying and intervening earlier with regard to pupils' special needs, as well as making the posts more attractive to qualified teachers.

The previous allocation system placed significant demands on principals, teachers and psychologists. It has also proven to be time-consuming, thereby delaying the allocation of resources for special needs. The new model will, over time, significantly improve the capacity of the system to cater for children with special needs in a speedier, more effective way. The revised system will reduce the administrative burden on schools and allow them to concentrate on the delivery of services to pupils with special needs. It will also allow psychologists to devote more time to advising teachers on planning for individual children and for whole school provision.

In order to facilitate the full introduction of the revised model from the school year 2005-06, my Department has agreed not to re-deploy surplus teachers from full-time posts via the panel redeployment process during the current school year. In the case of small rural schools, the Department’s inspectorate is currently finalising clusters of schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have announced that I am having the impact of the revised allocation model reviewed to ameliorate any difficulties arising, particularly in small and rural schools. I want to ensure that it provides an automatic response while at the same time ensuring that pupils currently in receipt of service continue to receive the level of service appropriate to their needs.

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