Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (102, 103)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

102 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address the genuine concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied); if he will respond to the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32741/12]

View answer

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

103 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that the Health Service Executive provides services required by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32769/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 103 together.

Firstly, I wish to advise the Deputy that he may wish to contact my colleague, the Minister for Health or the Health Service Executive (HSE) directly regarding services provided by the HSE.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's policy in allocating this support.

My Department's Circular 0042/2011 notified school management authorities of the staffing arrangements which would apply in special schools in the 2011/12 school year and from 2012/13 onwards. The Circular indicates that staffing arrangements based on pupil population, as opposed to being based principally on school designation, will apply with effect from the 2012/13 school year. School staffing schedules will be reviewed and updated each year by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). In this regard, the NCSE has collected up to date and precise details of pupils attending the school in question and has allocated staffing on the basis of the school's pupil profile.

The special school referred to by the Deputy will have an enrolment of 76 pupils with a staffing allocation of 14 teachers for the 2012/13 school year, which is the same teaching allocation as the school had in the 2011/12 school year, as well as 34.5 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). Notwithstanding the fact that the pupils attending this school have significant levels of need, this is a very high staffing level, with a total of 48.5 staff providing for 76 pupils at the school which is an overall adult to pupil ratio of 1 adult per 1.6 pupils in the school. These enhanced pupil teacher and SNA ratios are provided to special schools to support them in dealing with pupil behaviour and individual educational and care needs. In addition, it is open to schools to seek guidance and advice from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in relation to the establishment of whole-school procedures in this area.

Finally, I wish to confirm that phase 1 of a proposed building project for the school is currently underway. A four-classroom unit and ancillary accommodation is currently under construction. Phase 2 of the project which will provide the bulk of the remaining accommodation was included in the 5 year construction programme announced in March of this year. Under that programme, the phase 2 project has a scheduled timeframe to commence construction in 2014/15.