Skip to main content
Normal View

Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 15 September 2011

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Questions (68, 69, 70)

David Stanton

Question:

66 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appeals or review options open to parents who are unhappy with a special education needs organiser’s allocation for their child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24384/11]

View answer

David Stanton

Question:

67 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appeals or review options open to schools who are unhappy with a special education needs organiser for their school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24385/11]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 67 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools in order to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. In relation to the allocation of SNA support, this now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

Where additional teaching or care support is allocated by SENOs, in order to support children with special needs, these resources are allocated to schools. It is a matter for schools to utilise those resources to best support the children designated for receipt of such support. Parents should therefore raise any issues that they have regarding resource allocation or utilisation with their school Principal in the first instance. If a parent or school has concerns about the performance of a SENO they should raise this matter directly with the NCSE.

In relation to review procedures for schools, the NCSE issued a Circular to all schools in February of this year which provided guidance to schools with regard to the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme is to provide for an annual allocation of SNA support to eligible schools.

The NCSE Guidelines to schools stated that "a mechanism will be developed through which schools may seek to have the position in relation to the level of SNA resource revisited. However, given that there is now a finite cap on the level of such supports, the current model of appeal is not appropriate for use in the context of SNA allocation. Therefore the new mechanism for use by schools and parents will be developed after the operation of the above resource allocation process itself has been examined".

This is intended to take place later this year when the 2011/2012 allocations process has been completed. The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of any review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

David Stanton

Question:

68 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentay Question Nos 637, 638 and 639 of 2 Febrary 2010, his plans to implement the remaining sections of EPSEN Act 2004 necessary to allow for the Special Education Appeals Board to begin hearing appeals from parents dissatisfied with special education needs organiser allocation decisions; if the National Council for Special Education has established, across all schools, a structured appeals process of SENO decisions which was piloted in 2010; if the NCSE has established an independent appeal advisory committee; if so, the membership of same. [24386/11]

View answer

The Deputy will be aware that a number of sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) 2004 have already been commenced, principally those establishing the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and those promoting an inclusive approach to the education of children with special educational needs. The Deputy is also aware that the previous Government deferred the full implementation of EPSEN in the light of the very difficult economic situation and the associated significant costs.

I wish to clarify for the Deputy that this Government is committed — during the tenure of this Government — to the publication of a plan for the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN) to prioritise access for children with special needs to an individual education plan.

It is my intention to prepare a plan to implement EPSEN in line with the programme for Government, subject to the restrictions of the current fiscal position. All parts of the EPSEN legislation, which have not been commenced to date, including the section relating to the establishment of the Special Education Appeals Board, will be considered during this process.

The NCSE issued a Circular to all schools in February of this year which provided guidance to schools with regard to the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme is to provide for an annual allocation of SNA support to eligible schools.

The NCSE Guidelines to schools stated that "a mechanism will be developed through which schools may seek to have the position in relation to the level of SNA resource revisited. However, given that there is now a finite cap on the level of such supports, the current model of appeal is not appropriate for use in the context of SNA allocation. Therefore the new mechanism for use by schools and parents will be developed after the operation of the above resource allocation process itself has been examined".

This is intended to take place later this year when the 2011/2012 allocations process has been completed. The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of any review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism. It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Top
Share