Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (17, 23)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

17. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will remove the cap on the number of resource and learning support teachers working with special needs students in order to ensure that the hours allocated to existing students are not cut each time a new student is allocated hours; if he will ensure that the expected increase of 10,000 additional students entering the primary school system in September 2013 does not lead to an across the board reduction in students teaching support hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11981/13]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

23. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills his assessment of the impact of the cap on teacher numbers on special needs students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11990/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 23 together.

There has been no overall reduction in Resource Teaching numbers for the current school year. 9,950 posts have been provided for Resource Teaching and learning support for the 2012/13 school year, the same number as provided for last year. 5,500 of these posts are available for allocation to pupils with more complex special needs. Due to an increase in demand in schools it was necessary for the NCSE to allocate 85% of approved resource teaching hours to each school. This ensured that every child who needs support is supported, with sufficient posts retained for emergency applications, without breaching the Employment Control Framework, which is necessitated by the severe budgetary constraints facing the Government. Schools were asked to minimise the impact of this adjustment through pairing and grouping of pupils. The position for the coming school year will be considered in light of the number of applications received by the NCSE.