Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Questions (39)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

39. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason it is taking until 2015 to implement the national policy on educating children with autism; and the reasons behind the lengthy delay for implementing a national policy for children with autism. [32208/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy may be aware that, 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. While this policy document is in preparation, the Deputy is assured that national policy for the education of children with autism is being fully implemented in a timely and consistent manner. 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 not 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. As the Deputy is aware I have now requested the NCSE to prepare Policy Advice on the Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and it is not expected that the report will be finalised until early 2015. The time frame required is reflective of the wide consultation process which will be a feature of the preparation of the advice. I have specifically requested the NCSE to consult widely with parents, professionals and other stakeholders and interested parties. Furthermore the NCSE has 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. It is for these reasons that the advice is not expected until 2015.