Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions (97)

Thomas P. Broughan


97. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 358 to 362, inclusive, of March 2014, in view of the fact that his Department’s document Model A required that there would be advice and supervision from an ABA specialist for teachers and that the class teacher would receive ABA training prior to taking responsibility for the class, if he will confirm whether these two requirements became outdated along with Model A or if he will provide details of the control and oversight process that is currently in place to supervise externally the use of ABA in over 500 ASD units; and if his Department has consulted with the division of behaviour analysis on the adequacy and quality of this control mechanism in view of his reply that the SESS is a support service for teachers and is not involved in the supervision of the implementation of ABA. [15577/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As I previously advised the Deputy the Model concept became outdated in that it refers to specific models of provision. It was recognised that the model concept was complex and multipurpose. It was determined that parents of children with autism should have three distinct choices available to them; their child could either attend a mainstream class in their local school with additional supports as required, they could attend a special class in a mainstream school or they could attend a special school. The Deputy will be aware that while some children with autism can thrive in a mainstream class, special classes have been specifically designed to meet the needs of those who require more intensive support. Special classes for children with autism in mainstream schools reflect the model A concept.

Qualified primary teachers are equipped to teach special classes for children with autism. In addition my Department provides for a comprehensive system of continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers in the area of special educational needs including teachers of children with autism. Central to this is the Special Education Support Service (SESS). For the period between 2008 and 2010 teachers were appointed to new autism classes in advance of the class opening to facilitate CPD for the teachers in question. The CPD continues to be provided by SESS, but due to the smaller numbers of teachers requiring training the appointments are no longer made in advance. Funding is also made available through the SESS support scheme enabling teachers to identify their own CPD needs and attend appropriate and relevant courses not provided directly by the SESS.

The SESS has a number of teams involved in the provision of CPD and support to teachers of students with challenging behaviour; the Challenging Behaviour Team, the Autism Team and the Contemporary Applied Behaviour Analysis Team. Thirteen members of the SESS are directly involved in these teams. I am satisfied that SESS is making appropriate provision to support teachers and schools in this area. The SESS has not consulted with the Division of Behaviour Analysis in this regard. Two full-time SESS team members hold a BCBA qualification with three others currently having post-graduate qualifications in this area.