Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (291)

Alan Kelly

Question:

291. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills when there will be an autism spectrum disorder unit for post-primary schools in Nenagh, County Tipperary. [12806/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the National Council for Special education (NCSE), to establish a class.

The NCSE, an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

The NCSE’s team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs and identify available placements. They also support and advise schools in this area. Parents who are experiencing difficulties in locating a special class placement, should contact their local SENO.

The NCSE has informed my Department that they are satisfied that there are sufficient post primary ASD special class placements in the area referred to by the Deputy to meet identified need for the forthcoming school year.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability. This work is currently underway in the area concerned for the 2020/21 school year.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

160 new special classes have been opened for the 2018/19 school year, which means there are now 1,459 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011.