Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (97)

Dominic Hannigan


97 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Meath has had 16 hours special needs assistant time reduced for next year; if the National Council for Special Education has taken into consideration the impact these reductions will have on the schools ability to continue with its dual placement programme with a school in Navan; the reason this school also had a 5% reduction in its resource teaching hours; when his Department will be in contact with the school regarding the appointment of a temporary part-time teacher; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32680/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

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 established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and, in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

My Department does not facilitate the dual enrolment of children. As such, SENOs can only allocate resources to schools in respect of those pupils enrolled in a school. However, dual placement arrangements are a regular feature of transitional plans for children who are transferring from one placement to another and should be managed locally by the relevant Boards of Management.

It is important to note that a school's allocation of SNA support may alter from year to year as pupils enrol or leave a school or where a child's care needs have diminished over time. If a school is notified of a change in SNA support this is either because the number of qualifying children has changed or the assessed needs of the qualifying children have changed. The NCSE may only allocate SNAs to schools where valid applications meet the qualifying criteria.

In relation to Resource Teaching support, there are 5,500 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) Resource Teaching posts available for allocation for the coming school year, which is the same as last year. This does not include the 4,450 resource and learning support teachers being provided to all schools to support children with less complex, or high incidence, learning needs.

With rising enrolments in schools, the number of valid applications received by the NCSE for the 2012/2013 school year to date is higher than last year. It is necessary therefore to manage these resources so that every child who needs support can access support and are treated the same.

In order to ensure there are sufficient remaining posts to make allocations for late or emergency applications, while staying within the Employment Control Framework (ECF), the NCSE will initially allocate 85% of approved resource teaching hours to each school.

Schools are being asked to make up any time lost through grouping of students and more effective management of teaching time, to ensure that every child who needs support can access support and is treated the same.

It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Departments guidance. Similarly, SNAs should be deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

Finally, Circular 0007/2012 sets out the criteria for the allocation of Resource posts for the 2012/2013 school year. The relevant application form for part-time Resource teaching posts for the 2012/13 school year can be accessed on my Departments website.