Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (233)

Paudie Coffey


233. Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a speech and language class will be provided for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22507/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department provides an extensive range of supports for pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD). This includes provision for the establishment of special classes for pupils with SSLD in primary schools. Applications to establish such classes are considered by the school's assigned Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) and those meeting the criteria for establishment are approved by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). Special classes may also be discontinued by the NCSE where the need no longer exists.

The criteria for enrolment in a Special Class for pupils with SSLD is set out in my Department's Circular 0038/2007. A full-time teacher is assigned to each class, and classes operate with a reduced pupil-teacher ratio of 7:1. In addition, an enhanced capitation grant is provided to schools operating special classes for pupils with SSLD. Speech and Language Therapy services are provided to these classes by the Health Service Executive (HSE). A minimum number of five eligible pupils is required for a school to retain a SSLD class. Eligible pupils may spend up to two years in such classes.

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to open a speech and language class. While there are 2 language classes in Waterford already, the NCSE has confirmed that they would be willing to set up such a class. The provision of health supports, including Speech and Language Therapy services, is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive and requests in relation to this particular issue should be directed to that body.