Firstly, I wish to clarify that this Government has maintained funding for resources for children with special educational needs at a time when there is a continued requirement to make expenditure savings across a range of areas. There is no overall reduction in Resource Teaching numbers for the coming school year. Overall, 9,950 posts will be provided for Resource Teaching support for the 2012/13 school year, the same number as that provided for last year and an increase of 350 over that provided for in 2010. 5,500 of these posts are available to the NCSE for allocation for pupils with assessed low incidence special educational needs. This number cannot be exceeded under the Employment Control Framework (ECF).
For the 2011/12 school year an allocation of 90% of valid identified resource teaching allocations was made to schools by the NCSE to schools in order to provide schools with the majority of their allocation while preserving enough capacity to deal with all applications received and ensure that the Department of Education and Skills remained within ECF obligations. The number of valid applications received by the NCSE for the 2012/2013 school year to date has risen marginally with rising enrolments in schools. Therefore, in order to ensure there are sufficient remaining posts to make allocations for late or emergency applications, while staying within the ECF, the NCSE will initially allocate 85% of assessed needs to schools. This will ensure that there are a sufficient number of posts retained to make allocations for late or emergency applications, while staying within the ECF.
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 are treated the same. Schools should monitor and utilise these resources to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Department's guidance.
Finally, I wish to assure the Deputy that it is my intention that resources available to my Department are utilised to optimum benefit to ensure the best possible outcomes for students with special educational needs. In this regard my Department is seeking advice from the NCSE on policy options for the allocation of these resources in future, with a view to ensuring that the most appropriate and efficient model is in place in the coming years.