Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (197)

Maureen O'Sullivan


197. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to correspondence by the Irish Centre of Behavioural Support and Research regarding changes being made to the home tuition grant requirements as set out in circular 0006/2013; his views on anxiety expressed by parents to retain the home tuition grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5427/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials at my Department have been in correspondence with the Directors of the facility referred to in this question. Officials in the Special Education Section of my Department also met with the Directors of the facility at the end of November 2013, to discuss the issues raised in the correspondence referred to. I am advised that this meeting addressed the issues raised in the correspondence. In addition, my Department has advised the Directors by letter that they are welcome to revert should any issue remain outstanding. I understand that the Directors have reverted very recently with a number of issues which will be addressed as soon as possible. I can also confirm that the Directors have not raised any individual cases with my officials or indeed identified any parents who may be anxious about the Home Tuition grant.

The Deputy may be aware from the circular in question that the purpose of my Department's Home Tuition scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school or for children with a special educational need who are awaiting an educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for preschool children with autism. Children with autism between the ages of 2.5 and 3 are eligible for home tuition. The home tuition continues from their 3rd birthday if no placement in a school based autism early intervention class is available for them. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a national network of Special Educational Needs Advisors who can assist parents in identifying school placements for their children, if required.

As home tuition takes place outside the usual school structure it is important that home tutors are qualified to provide an educational programme. It is appropriate therefore that the qualification standard in the Home Tuition Scheme generally reflects that required in a school environment. The qualification requirements for tutors providing home tuition to children have not changed. It remains the case that home tutors should be fully qualified teachers. When it is not possible to recruit a fully qualified teacher then alternative appropriate third level qualifications may be acceptable.

However, from this year my Department has also required that, in addition to being qualified teachers, tutors must be registered or have applied for registration with the Teaching Council of Ireland. Tutors with acceptable third level qualifications will be eligible to apply for registration. Accordingly, those whose qualifications were acceptable in the past remain eligible, provided they have applied for registration with the Teaching Council.