Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (25)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

25. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the need for an autism specific school in western areas of Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19842/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I want to assure the Deputy that concerns regarding a shortage of appropriate school places for next September are being taken very seriously. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has been engaging with local groups on this issue directly.

The National Council for Special education (NCSE) has formally advised me that there is insufficient special school and special class capacity in Dublin 15.

I wrote to the local parents committee on the 26th April and my Department, the NCSE and the Office of An Taoiseach were represented at a meeting with Parents to discuss this issue on the 29th April.

My Department, the NCSE and school patrons are actively engaging to address this issue. As a result of these efforts, three special classes catering for 18 students are on track to open in September 2019.

In addition, the NCSE met with stakeholders, including education providers, in the Dublin 15 area on 30 April and further engagement with the objective of opening further special classes is ongoing. 

If existing schools, including special schools, cannot provide the necessary number of places, then other arrangements will be made following any necessary consultation with parents and schools.  

To this end, I can advise that options are currently being examined and scoped out, in relation to establishing additional special school places to cater for the needs of children in Dublin 15.  My Department officials are engaging with patron bodies including Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board with regard to suitable space which may be made available immediately for the purpose of providing the required placements. 

The NCSE will keep in regular contact with the Parents of the children concerned to advise them of progress and identify placements as they become available.

I have discussed this matter in detail with An Taoiseach and my Department is actively engaged with the NCSE in taking steps to increase the number of suitable places to cater for the needs of children in Dublin 15.