Thursday, 2 February 2006

Questions (200)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

201 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Science the information on service requirements which has been forwarded to the Health Service Executive in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who will require a suitable secondary school place in September 2006; her views on the urgency with which such requirements must be notified to the Health Service Executive and put in place in view of this person’s autistic spectrum disorder diagnosis and the likelihood of a potential school place being dependent on the guarantee of the required services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3662/06]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

From 1 January 2005, the National Council for Special Education has taken over key functions from the Department in special educational provision. The NCSE was formally established as an independent statutory body on 1 October 2005 under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2005. The council acts under the broad policy direction of the Department but has the resources and the remit to play the leading role in the delivery of education services to children with disabilities-special needs.

The provision of speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and other health related supports is a matter for the Health Service Executive. However, the NCSE co-ordinates with the health services, schools and other relevant bodies regarding the provision of education and related support services to children with disabilities-special needs. The responsibilities of the NCSE include deciding on applications for additional teaching support in respect of children with disabilities with special educational needs at second level; deciding on applications for special needs assistant hours; processing applications for school placement in respect of children with disabilities with special educational needs.

Under the new arrangements, where a pupil with special educational needs enrols in a post primary school, it is open to the school to apply to the local special educational needs organiser for additional teaching support and-or special needs assistant support for the pupil. The SENO will process the relevant application for resources and inform the school of the outcome. It is important to note that in the case of decisions on additional teaching and SNA support, the SENO will outline the process to the school and parents, where appropriate, and will at the end of the process outline the basis on which the decision was made.

The precise model of provision made available will depend on the assessed needs of the pupils involved. Some students are capable of attending ordinary classes on an integrated basis with additional teacher and-or special needs assistant support. In other cases, placement in special dedicated classes or units attached to the school may be the more appropriate response. Such special classes operate at significantly reduced pupil-teacher ratios. Students attached to these special classes may be facilitated in attending ordinary subject classes on an integrated basis wherever possible. The organisation of such provision is a significant task of the National Council for Special Education.

The Department will continue to ensure that the necessary resources are made available for the education of children with special needs. The advent of the NCSE will prove of major benefit in ensuring that all children with special educational needs receive the support they require when and where they require it.

The Department has requested the NCSE to confirm the current position on any application for resources in respect of the pupil referred to by the Deputy. This information will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it received.