Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (315)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

315. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim will now have to share a special needs assistant despite the fact that the person has needed a full-time SNA since the beginning of their education up until the end of the current academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31712/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the allocation of resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of Special Education supports and the staffing resources available to my Department. All schools were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2013/14 school year by 15th March 2013. Details of the SNA allocations which have been made to schools by the NCSE for the 2013/2014 school year are now available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie, which provides details of the SNA allocations for each school on a school by school and per county basis.

Where schools have enrolled children who were not considered at the time that these allocations were made, or where schools are seeking a revision to the quantum of SNA support which has been allocated to them for the coming school year, they should contact the NCSE regarding this matter. In general a revision to SNA allocations will only be made in circumstances where schools can demonstrate that they do not have sufficient SNA posts to cater for the assessed care needs of all qualifying children in their school. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

School Transport Eligibility

Question No. 317 answered with Question No. 313.

Questions (316)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

316. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options in terms of school transport that are open to atheist families where the only secondary school in their catchment area is Roman Catholic where their children will be excluded from some religious school activities; if children from these families can avail of the nearest school transport to a secondary school that respects their value system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31719/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest education centre. From the commencement of the 2012/13 school year, catchment areas are no longer a factor in determining eligibility for school transport. Children are now eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. In relation to school transport provision, ethos relates to religious ethos and is in the context of provision for minority religions. Families should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office to establish their school of eligibility for school transport purposes.

Question No. 317 answered with Question No. 313.

Special Education Review

Questions (318)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

318. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he intends to comply with last October's ruling from the Ombudsman for Children that he should publish an autism policy document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31744/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Further to the encouragement of the Ombudsman for Children last year and mindful that greater clarity on my Department's policy on the education of children with autism would be useful for schools and parents, my Department is currently in the process of preparing a comprehensive statement of existing policy within the boundaries of one document. This process is ongoing.

My Department's policy on the education of children with Autism resides within the overall policies on the education of children with special educational needs. In the main these policies are non condition specific. In this context, the Autism policy, whether expressed in a multiple of documents or in a single document, should not be viewed as a separate 'stand alone' policy. The new policy statement will not be exclusive. Policies are subject of necessity to change from time to time. Also, the new statement will neither alter nor add to existing policy. It will reflect the current policy in a coherent and articulate manner for the benefit of schools and parents. My Department is conscious of the need to adapt existing policies and to develop new policies as new research or learning becomes available. The National Council for Special Education has a formal role under Section 20.1(j) of EPSEN to advise the Minister 'in relation to any matter relating to the education of children and others with disabilities'. I have now requested the NCSE to prepare Policy Advice on the Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The NCSE have commissioned research which will not be finalised until mid to late 2014 and I expect that this research will inform much of the work in preparing the policy advice. Accordingly it is not expected that the report will be finalised until early 2015.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (319)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

319. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a psychologist employed by the Health Service Executive recommends that a child with autism receive early intensive behavioural intervention for a specified number of hours each week, his views on whether it is proper for a teacher to utilise his Department's preferred eclectic approach, which professional behavioural psychologists warn is incompatible with EIBI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31745/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's position is that as each child with autism is unique, they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. Applied Behavioural Analysis, or ABA, is one of the approaches used in special classes for children with autism. The use of ABA as part of the range of interventions is particularly useful for addressing behavioural issues. My Department supports the use of ABA and training is provided for teachers in its use. However, the Department does not accept, based on research, advice and best practice, that ABA should be the only approach used. While ABA helps to improve behaviour, other approaches, such as Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS) are just as important in developing children's communication and speech skills. It is important that children have access to a range of approaches so that their broader needs can be met. As children differ significantly from one another and as children's needs vary and change over time, it is not possible to impose a method or approach that will work for all children with autism. This child centred approach is based on advice received from international experts on autism, NEPS, the Inspectorate and the report of the Irish Task Force on Autism.

The Deputy may be interested to note that teachers in special schools have been using ABA principles for more than 25 years. ABA involves the systematic application, at any time during the child's day, of behavioural principles to modify behaviour. The effectiveness of behavioural interventions to improve the performance of children with autism and to ameliorate behavioural difficulties has been recognized for decades. To clarify the position regarding psychological assessment reports prepared by health service staff which identify a child's educational needs, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has provided guidance to their staff which clarifies that if a report prepared by HSE staff identifies a child's educational needs the report should not specify how the education sector should meet those needs.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

Questions (320)

Seán Kenny

Question:

320. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason it has taken over a year to receive a grant decision in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31747/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the applicant referred to by the Deputy was issued with a decision on the 28th May 2013 advising her that she was deemed ineligible to receive a grant. I understand from SUSI that incomplete documentation had been received.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grant Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

Questions (321)

Seán Kenny

Question:

321. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason students who have completed first year in third level education have not yet received decisions regarding their grant applications; the steps he is taking to rectify this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31748/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that there are a small number of applications awaiting a decision, and the turnaround time on receipt of outstanding documentation is two to three working days. There are a number of appeals in the system also which are being prioritised. Many of the recommendations in the Accenture report on the review of SUSI's system have already been implemented.

In preparation for the 2013/2014 Academic year both the online application system and the application assessment process have been further developed to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency and respond to experiences from year 1. The staff resources recommended by the Review have already been sanctioned. These developments will help to ensure that qualifying students have their applications assessed as quickly as possible.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (322)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

322. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the increase in pupil-teacher ratio at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare which will rise from 22 to 32 in the next academic year; if he will commit to addressing the need for the school to be properly resourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31760/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in this year's budget and there will no reduction in teacher numbers in primary schools for the 2013/14 school year as a result of the budget. The DEIS scheme for disadvantaged schools is also fully protected with no overall changes to staffing levels or funding as a result of the budget. The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts for the 2013/2014 school year is set out in the Staffing Schedule (Circular 0013/2013) which is available on the Department website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0013/2013. The allocation process at individual school level is currently underway. The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and all appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (323)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

323. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal for July provision hours in respect of children (details supplied) in County Donegal; the reason these children are not being treated individually despite the fact that they need a full-time one-to-one special needs assistant during the school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31762/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the July Education Programme is available to all special schools and mainstream primary schools with special classes catering for children with autism that choose to extend their education services through the month of July. My Department also provides for a July Programme for pupils with a severe/profound general learning disability. Where school based provision is not feasible, home based provision may be grant aided. The allocation of home based provision to siblings for July Provision is reflective of the school grouping principle. This is where one teacher is allocated to a class of six pupils at the appropriate educational level, primary or post primary. Accordingly it is considered appropriate, as in a school situation, that a tutor can provide tuition at the appropriate educational level to more than one sibling at that level simultaneously in the home. The school grouping principle does not purport to replicate or mirror all aspects of school based provision. The age or ability of siblings is reflected in their education level as determined by education and health professionals. In general where a child is receiving their education in a class setting with other children of mixed age and ability, this should carry through to their July Provision. However in recognition of the differing needs of some siblings, including the brothers referred to by the Deputy, separate allocations can considered on a case by case basis. Applications in this regard will require supporting documentation including professional reports from a psychologist or a letter from the principal of the school detailing the existing arrangements currently in place for the respective children and providing reasons why they cannot be tutored together in the home. Separate allocations have been approved for the siblings referred to by the Deputy.

State Examinations Issues

Questions (324)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

324. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are any concessions awarded to a student (details supplied) in County Wexford who became seriously ill during a recent State examination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31772/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Higher Education Institutions Expenditure

Questions (325)

Damien English

Question:

325. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total annual cost in Trinity College Dublin of providing free open online courses worldwide as part of a new global partnership with Futurelearn; if he will provide a breakdown of the cost of the programme design, server maintenance, advertising and any other line item costs associated with free online courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31777/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The position is that higher education institutions, including universities such as Trinity College Dublin, are autonomous bodies and their day to day operational affairs including issues such as the provison of online courses are the responsibility of the management authority and governing body of the University. However, I understand that the HEA has been in contact with the college and has been informed that the platform, technical and marketing costs of these courses are covered by FutureLearn with the programme development costs covered by Trinity. The HEA also understand that to date no costs have been incurred and Trinity College expect future costs to be minimal. They will be monitoring the cost-benefit of this initiative.

Higher Education Institutions Expenditure

Questions (326)

Damien English

Question:

326. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an overview of the headline financial situation in terms of revenue, deficit and debt in Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and the University of Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31778/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Details of the headline financial situation in respect of the seven Universities are set out in the following document. These details are based on 2011/12 funding statements of the Universities.

PQ - Revenues, Deficits & Debt

2011/12 Funding Statements

-

-

UCD

TCD

UCC

NUIG

NUIM

UL

DCU

Total

-

-

€'m

€'m

€'m

€'m

€'m

€'m

€'m

€'m

Please indicate if 2011/12 Funding Statements are draft or audited

Draft

Audited

Draft

Audited

Audited

-

-

-

Total Revenue

338.5

265.9

273.8

221.3

96.8

156.0

132.8

1,485.1

Surplus / (Deficit) for year

3.3

0.1

0.5

0.7

0.3

0.3

0.0

5.2

Accumulated Revenue Reserves

(3.2)

0.4

0.0

8.5

0.5

(1.5)

0.3

5.1

Debt > 1 year *

94.1

133.9

55.0

-

-

10.5

1.0

294.5

* Debt is defined as bank loans and borrowings due in greater than 1 year as reported in the funding statements.

Teaching Contracts

Questions (327)

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

327. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has not gained access to the supplementary teachers panel in view of the fact that the person has worked 191 days since becoming qualified on 1 October 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31829/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The core function of the redeployment arrangements is to facilitate the redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers to other schools that have vacancies. The redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers is key to the Department's ability to manage within its payroll budget and ceiling on teacher numbers. Thereafter, schools are required under the panel arrangements to fill permanent vacancies from supplementary panels comprised of eligible fixed-term (temporary/substitute) and part-time teachers. The application process for the supplementary panels was introduced for the 2012/13 school year. The arrangements for panel access for fixed term (temporary/substitute) and part-time teachers for the 2013/14 school year are set out in Department Circular 0038/2012 which is available on the Department website. The Supplementary Panel is created for eligible primary teachers in fixed term/temporary positions (this includes substitute positions) and part-time positions who meet the relevant eligibility criteria outlined in Part 2 of this circular. The teacher referred to by the Deputy failed to meet the criteria and is therefore ineligible to be included on the supplementary panel.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (328)

Brendan Smith

Question:

328. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed building project for a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; the present stage of this project, when it is proposed that the project will move to the next stage; the likely timescale for construction to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31837/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project, for the school referred to by the Deputy, is currently at an early stage of architectural planning, stage 2a. My Department's over-riding objective in identifying school building projects to progress to tender and construction is to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. To ensure that this is achieved, the delivery of major school projects to meet significant demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The Five Year school building programme that I announced in March 2012 is focused on meeting those demographic needs. The Deputy will be aware that I also recently announced a €50 million investment in school building projects as part of the Government's "Investing in Infrastructure & Jobs" Package. The projects considered for inclusion in that package were all at a significantly more advanced stage of architectural planning than the project referred to by the Deputy. In view of the funding constraints, it is not possible to progress all projects within the Department's building programme concurrently. School Building Projects currently in architectural planning, but not included in the Five Year Programme or Stimulus Package, will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to my Department in future years. The project referred to by the Deputy remains available to be considered for progression in that context. However, this is contingent upon satisfactory completion of the relevant stages of architectural planning.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (329)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

329. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of psychological assessments for learning support and resources hours that were successfully submitted for the allocation of hours in 2011 and 2012 which were carried out privately; the number of private assessment which did not result in the allocation of hours; the total number of assessments which were carried out by NEPS in the same period; the number of these that were successful and unsuccessful for the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31841/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports, including Resource Teaching support for children with more complex low incidence special needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such supports. I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are on the Department's website. Where a NEPS psychologist is not assigned to a school, authorities therein may access psychological assessments through SCPA. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly. It should be noted that in common with many other psychological services, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for a pupil's initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. It is the responsibility of the school Principal in the first instance to identify and prioritise pupils for assessment under the process described above. The Deputy will be aware that some parents also acquire assessments for their children either privately, or through an assessment by the Health Service Executive. As all applications for low incidence resource teaching support are considered by the NCSE, I have referred the Deputy's question regarding the nature of the supporting assessments which have accompanied such applications for support to the NCSE in 2011 and 2012, and the number of applications approved, for their consideration and direct reply to the Deputy. The Deputy will be aware that the NCSE recently published comprehensive policy advice on Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools. This policy advice is available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie. The policy advice concluded that children with special educational needs are well supported in schools. However, the NCSE also concluded that the current allocation system does not always provide all children with special educational needs with the same access to supports, as some children may be delayed in receiving supports due to difficulties in accessing an assessment for a diagnosis of disability which is needed to trigger additional teaching support for students with more complex disabilities under the current allocation system. I have, therefore, as recommended by the Report, requested the NCSE to establish a Working Group which will consider this issue and develop a proposal, for consideration, for a new allocation model for teaching supports for children with Special Educational Needs based on the profiled educational needs of children in schools.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (330)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

330. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children at primary level awaiting psychological assessments from NEPS, in tabular form by county; the maximum time a child is waiting by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31842/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) which is administered by NEPS. NEPS does not keep waiting lists for assessments of children but in common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS has adopted a consultative model of service. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring. Psychologists use a problem solving and solution focused consultative approach to maximize positive outcomes for these pupils. NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention. This system allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention. This process has been embedded by NEPS psychologists in the Primary sector with the production by the Department of Special Educational Needs – A Continuum of Support guidance and resource materials which has been distributed to all schools since 2007/8. In late 2010 similar support documentation was produced in relation to Emotional and Behavioural difficulties in the Primary sector and in relation to a formal Post-Primary Continuum process. The continua described above all involve a graduated problem solving model of assessment and intervention in schools processes which moves from basic classroom based interventions to more specialised and individual interventions and comprise three distinct school based phases characterised as follows: Classroom Support – is an intervention which is co-ordinated by the Class Teacher and is carried out in the regular classroom, School Support - is an assessment and intervention process which is usually co-ordinated by the learning support/resource teacher working alongside the class teacher. Interventions at this stage will be additional to those provided through classroom support. School Support Plus – is generally characterised by the school requesting the involvement by the relevant external service (predominantly NEPS) in more detailed assessment and development of intervention programmes. This level of intervention is for children with complex and/or enduring needs and whose progress is considered inadequate, despite carefully planned interventions at previous levels. The staged model recognises that pupils present with a wide range of issues and difficulties and allows for their amelioration and intervention at the level most appropriate to the particular need. The continuum approach ensures that pupils presenting within this range are dealt with quickly and at the appropriate level without the establishment of a waiting list for formal assessment.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (331)

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

331. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applicants to Student Universal Support Ireland seeking grant support who failed to complete the previous academic year; if SUSI monitors the attendance of students in receipt of support grants regarding lectures throughout the academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31935/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The information in relation to students who dropped out of college is not available. The Deputy would be aware that affordability is just one of the factors that impact on students, continued participation in higher education. There are a range of wider factors that also impact on participation, including social and cultural issues, prior academic attainment and teacher and parental expectations. Students awarded a grant are paid the maintenance element subject to confirmation and verification of attendance from the institution being attended. Student Universal Support Ireland receives confirmation of satisfactory attendance from the further education sector on a monthly basis and from the higher education sector on a semester basis. Students who have previously attended, but not completed an approved course of study are required to complete an equivalent period of study on an approved course before being eligible to be considered for a grant.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (332)

James Bannon

Question:

332. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons for the delay in processing a third level grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford who was informed verbally on 10 June 2013 that the appeal had been upheld; the reason the person was informed on 21 June that the appeal had not been processed as it was only sent to the appeals section on 12 June 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31938/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the applicant referred to by the Deputy appealed the original decision of the awarding authority regarding progression and a grant award letter issued on 12th April, 2013. The applicant was unhappy with the level of award and subsequently appealed this decision to SUSI on 10th May, 2013. On the 1st July, 2013 a request for supporting documentation was issued to the student. When this is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (333)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

333. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a definitive statement on the proposed cuts to special needs assistants' working hours and resource teaching allocations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31939/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the level of resources devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been maintained at €1.3 billion this year. This includes provision for 10,575 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and nearly 10,000 Learning Support and Resource Teachers. These resources have been protected despite the ongoing severe financial position. In relation to special needs assistants, there has been no proposed cut to SNA numbers or their working hours. Whereas the allocations of SNA support for individual school's may change each year in line with a schools enrolment of children with care needs, there has been no reduction to the overall number of SNA posts being provided for schools for the coming school year. This provision remains at 10,575 posts, which will ensure that all children who qualify for access to SNA support for the coming school year will receive access to such support. The total number of SNA posts allocated to schools for the 2012/13 school year was 10,487 posts. For the 2011/12 school year it was 10,320 posts. The demand for SNAs for the 2013/2104 school year currently stands at 10,490 leaving some 85 posts available for late demand. It is therefore estimated that there will be sufficient SNA posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such support in the coming school year. In relation to the allocation of resource teaching support for schools from September 2013, demand for support has risen again this year, due to a combination of demographic growth and an increased number of assessments. The overall number of posts available to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for allocation to schools had been maintained at existing levels and accordingly the allocations initially announced by the NCSE on 19th June were reduced to take into account of the growth in demand, within the maintained number of posts, in order to ensure that equivalent allocations could be made for all qualifying children. The Deputy will be aware that I announced recently that I have now authorised the NCSE to restore the level of resource teaching allocations which can be provided for students with special educational needs to the 2012/13 levels. This will mean that there will not now be any reduction to resource teaching time for children on the level which applied last year.I also committed to ensuring that the resources which will be required to ensure that the allocations can be made to schools at existing levels will be provided, including resources required to meet any late demand expected to arise between now and the start of the school year. The NCSE have now published revised details of the Resource Teaching allocations for all schools, based on existing allocation levels. Details of these allocations are now provided at www.ncse.ie.

I am concerned that the scale of increased demand for resource teachers this year, if it were to continue, would make the current system unsustainable. I have therefore asked the NCSE to consider the reasons for the unprecedented 12 per cent rise in applications for resource teacher support this year, which compares with an annual 1.3 per cent increase in the number of students attending school in the current year. The Deputy will be aware that the NCSE recently published comprehensive policy advice on Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools.I have, as suggested by the Report, requested the NCSE to establish a Working Group to develop a proposal, for consideration, for a new allocation model for teaching supports for children with Special Educational Needs based on the profiled educational needs of children in schools. In the interim, I wish to ensure that children will not be disadvantaged while we move towards a new model which will ensure greater fairness and quality of education for children with special educational needs. That is why I have made the decision to maintain the existing allocation levels this year.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (334)

Finian McGrath

Question:

334. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding autism. [31955/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I previously advised the Deputy that the Home Tuition Scheme is not operated in an inequitable manner. The case which is referred to by the Deputy does not constitute an inequitable arrangement. If parents of pupils eligible for home tuition approach my Department with proposals to either collectively provide the tuition for their children in a group setting or to approve a direct payment arrangement, it would be unreasonable for my officials not to consider them on their merits. The Home Tuition scheme is not intended as a long term placement option for children with autism. The preferred policy of my Department is that children with autism are educated in school settings where children may have access to individualised education programmes (IEPs), fully-qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants, the appropriate school curriculum with the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils. The Deputy will be aware that the establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years.