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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 7 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Questions (16)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

16 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills if further resource hours will be allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39072/11]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

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 to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The number of resource hours available per category of disability are set out in Circular 02/05. Circular 37/2011 also provides information to schools regarding the arrangements which are being put in place for the 2011/12 school year for the allocation of Resource Teaching hours for children with assessed special educational needs.

In relation to the allocation of individual Resource Teaching hours, the position is that for the 2011/12 school year an allocation of 90% of valid identified resource teaching allocations has been made by the NCSE to schools in order to provide schools with the majority of their allocation, while also preserving enough capacity to deal with all of the applications received and to ensure that the Department of Education and Skills can remain within Employment Control Framework obligations. The NCSE has recently published statistical information in relation to the allocation of SNA posts and resource teaching hours to Primary, Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website at www.ncse.ie. The school referred to by the Deputy has an allocation of 1 SNA post and 41 Resource Teaching Hours.

In relation to the provision of SNA support, it should be noted that SNAs are a school based resource and the allocation of SNAs to a school are subject to change over time. For example, children may have diminishing care needs or some children in a school may progress on to second level. Allocations are made by SENOs who have considerable professional experience and formal qualifications in the assessment of children with special educational needs. The allocation of SNAs, while allocated on the basis of an assessed need of an individual child, are allocated to the school and should be deployed with discretion by the school in a manner which best meets the support requirements of all the children. If the parent concerned feels their child has experienced a regression due to changes in the school's overall SNA allocation they should raise this matter directly with the Principal and the local SENO.

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