Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (244)

Simon Harris

Question:

244. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way he plans to respond to policy advice on the future of special needs education from the National Council for Special Education; if an implementation group will be appointed to progress this report; if he expects parents and teachers to be involved in this group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30161/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that last year I requested the NCSE to review and make recommendations on the supports that we provide to children with special educational needs and how they are allocated, to ensure we are delivering the best possible educational experience and outcomes for our children.

In preparing this policy advice the NCSE consulted widely with parents of children with special educational needs, representative bodies and the education partners.

The NCSE have now published their policy advice on Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools, which is available on the website www.ncse.ie. The NCSE Report is clear that there are many aspects of the current system which parents and schools are very happy with. However, the NCSE also considers that there are concerns in relation to some aspects of our current system, under the headings of Enrolment, Assessments, and the Supports for children with Special Educational Needs and their allocation. The Report makes 28 detailed recommendations which the NCSE feels would help to address these issues.

The recommendations in the Report are both interesting and significant. They deserve in-depth and detailed examination and exploration. Accordingly, I have asked my Department to carefully review the recommendations and report back to me on them.

The report recommends that under the new resource allocation model proposed by the NCSE in its report, children should be allocated additional resources in line with their level of need, rather than by disability category.

I have requested the NCSE to immediately proceed to establish a Working Group in order to develop a proposal for consideration for a new Tailored Allocation Model, which is set out as one of the principal recommendations of the report. This proposal will then be considered by my Department.

I am very conscious that in making any changes to our supports for children with Special Educational Needs, we also need to protect the gains we have made. I would therefore like to give an assurance that consultation will be a key aspect in the implementation of any of these recommendations.