Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (210)

Seán Sherlock


210. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a child (details supplied) in County Cork is not being accommodated by the National Council for Special Education. [16277/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The policy of my Department of Education and Skills is to ensure that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in age appropriate school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

ASD Early Intervention classes are available for children aged between 3 and 5 years of age with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Early intervention classes are intended to provide early support for children with ASD before they start school.

Following early intervention, children will attend a mainstream class unless there is professional guidance that they require a special class or a placement in a special school. 

My Department’s policy is that all children must be enrolled in the primary school system, whether through placement in mainstream classes, in special classes or in special schools in the September prior to their sixth birthday.  If children are not in school by six years of age, under the Education Welfare Act 2000, the Educational Welfare Service must be satisfied that the child is receiving a minimum standard of education in a place other than a recognised school.

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision and support services for children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

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 or school placement, should contact their local SENO.

I understand that the local SENO is working with this family and that a suitable placement has been identified.  If further issues arise, it is important that the parent continues to work closely with the SENO for the area.