Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (221)

Dan Neville


221. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the funding either to build on to the existing premises or to purchase a second site or building in order that the autism-specific Redhill school (details supplied) in County Limerick can expand and each child on the list will then have an appropriate place to receive the education they deserve in a manner they can tolerate and which allows them to grow and reach their potential. [15109/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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. 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 the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have therefore arranged for the Deputy's question relating to provision at primary and post primary level in County Limerick to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply. SENOs are also a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children or on deciding the most appropriate placement for their child. SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie. The NCSE has published a Guide for Parents and Guardians of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs on Choosing a School. This guide is also available on their website. The NCSE works in collaboration with the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency which is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Educational Welfare Services, Child and Family Agency, can be contacted at 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700. The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools. Where a parent seeks to enrol their child in a school and that school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Only where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld, may the Secretary General of my Department direct a school to enrol a pupil. I am aware that the school referred to by the Deputy was established with temporary recognition in 2011 to cater for children with a diagnosis of ASD. I am aware also, that there is no capacity on the existing campus to facilitate any expansion of the school. However, my Department provided grant aid to the school in 2013 to make modifications to some existing ancillary rooms to provide additional pupil places and I understand that the school is currently making arrangements to carry out these modifications.