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 resources to schools to support children with special educational needs (SEN). The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.
I wish to advise the Deputy that, for children under the age of 5, the NCSE, through its network of SENOs, liaises with Assessment Officers in the Health Service Executive (HSE) in respect of the assessment of need process under the Disability Act 2005. The Assessment Officer contacts the relevant SENO when an educational need is identified as part of the assessment process. My Department's Circular 0020/2011 clarifies the roles of the NCSE and the HSE in relation to the assessment of need process, as well as the role of the school in this regard. This Circular is available on my Departments website at www.education.ie.
Separately the NCSE developed estimates on the prevalence of SEN as part of its process to advise the Minister on the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN), Act 2004. The Council estimated at that time that up to 18% of the school going population may have a special educational need, as defined under the EPSEN Act, while a more recent NCSE Report: A Study of the Prevalence of Special Educational Needs (2011) estimates that this figure may be even higher that 18% of the pupil population.