Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Questions (35)

Michael Colreavy

Question:

35. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on reports that children with special educational needs from middle-class backgrounds continue to receive more support at school than those from working-class areas as a result of having enhanced access to private psychological assessments when compared to schools dependent on the State funded National Educational Psychological Service. [32213/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) published its Policy Advice on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs on 17th May, 2013. This is a very significant report which is based on a review of best practice in both national and international research and follows a wide process of consultation with children with Special Educational Needs, parents, representative groups, educational partners, voluntary bodies and advocacy groups. The report refers to the limited availability of assessments in some areas and indicated that there was parental concern with regard to the assessment process and the waiting time for health or educational assessments. The report found that a serious consequence of the limited access to professional assessment is that access to supports which require an assessment to trigger a support may become dependent on the ability of the parent or the school to fund private assessments and that some schools and parents have greater capacity to source private reports. The report concludes that diagnosis should not be a prerequisite or determinant for the allocation of additional resources for a child or young person with special educational needs which should instead be based on the needs of the child, irrespective of category of disability. Instead, greater use should be made of school-based data and school performance in decision-making related to resource allocation.One of the principal recommendations of the policy advice is that a new model should be developed for the allocation of additional teaching resources to mainstream schools, based on the profiled need of each school, which will ensure that a more equitable resource allocation system will be in place for students, which will be based on their educational needs as opposed to being based primarily on a diagnosis of disability. I have requested the NCSE to proceed immediately to establish a Working Group to develop a proposal for consideration in relation to a revised allocation mechanism.