Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (194)

Thomas Pringle


194. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a July provision and individual education plans as called for by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5281/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A new model for allocating special education teachers to schools was introduced in 2017.

Under this model, children can receive additional teaching support based on their learning needs, rather than on a diagnosis of disability.

Parents of children who have Down syndrome have certainty that their children can receive as much additional teaching support as required in school, taking account of school based assessments of their learning needs.

There is no constraint on the amount of additional teaching time that may be allocated to pupils with Down syndrome, based on their diagnosis, or because they may previously have been in the mild general learning difficulty category.

My Department's July Provision Grant Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays. The scheme does not make provision for children with other categories of Special Education Needs.

The National Council for Special Education’s Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders was published in July 2016.

The NCSE review found that in general parents value July provision because it provides day-time respite for families and a structured day for students.

However, the NCSE review found a number of problems with the scheme as currently organised.

These include concerns that the scheme may be inequitable because it is not provided to all students with complex special educational needs.

The Council recommended that the relevant Government Departments consider how an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs.

The proposed scheme would provide a structured, safe, social environment for all students with complex special educational needs, which might include some children with Down syndrome.

The Department of Education and Skills has convened an Implementation Group with representatives of the NCSE, NEPS, the Inspectorate and representatives from other relevant Departments and agencies to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

There are no plans to change the July provision scheme coverage until this work is complete.

Schools have a legal duty to provide an appropriate education to all students, including young people with special educational needs, and need to plan to ensure this happens.

Guidelines for schools on educational planning and monitoring of outcomes through the Student Support File, are contained in the Guidelines for Primary and Post primary Schools: Supporting Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools.

Planning is a normal part of a teacher’s work and planning tools, like the student support file, have been created as a resource to help schools provide for their students. A variety of supports is available to support schools in this regard.