Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (271)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

271. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of special educational needs hours for a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18691/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools set out details of a new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.

DES Circulars 0007/2019 for primary schools and 0008/2019 for post primary schools also provide details of how the allocations are being updated for schools from September 2019, based on updated profile data.

All schools have now received revised allocations for September 2019.

As the re profiling occurred, some schools have gained additional allocations, where the profile indicator data indicates these schools have additional needs. Some schools received slightly reduced allocations, where the data indicates less need, and some schools maintained their existing allocations.

The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.

Under the allocation model, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support based on their school profile.

The provision of a profiled allocation is designed to give a fair allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the level of need in each school.

Schools are frontloaded with resources, based on each school’s profile. The allocations to schools include provision to support all pupils in the schools, including where a child receives a diagnosis after the allocation is received by a school, or where there are newly enrolling pupils to the school.

Both my Department and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are committed to ensuring that all schools are treated equally and fairly in the manner in which their school profiles have been calculated.

Accordingly, a number of review processes have been put in place to support schools.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published details of an appeal process for the 2019 allocation process for schools on their website www.ncse.ie.

Schools are advised that the appeal will consider circumstances where schools considered that their school profile was calculated incorrectly, using the data set out in DES Circulars 007 and 008 2019. An appeal can be submitted for a review of the information used and of the calculation of the allocation.

A second process will be put in place to address circumstances where the school profile significantly changed following the allocation process e.g. a developing school where the net enrolment numbers significantly increased.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in the Primary and Post Primary School Staffing Schedule for the 2019/20 school year.

Schools who qualify for additional mainstream developing school posts in accordance with these criteria will also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

Additional special education teaching allocations will be made for schools who have increased enrolments to the extent that they achieve developing status, once school enrolments have been verified at October 2019, as opposed to being based on projected enrolments. As the actual enrolments must be taken account of, this process cannot take place until the new school year is underway.

Finally, it is acknowledged that there are some circumstances, which may arise in schools, which fall outside the appeals process, or allocations for developing school status.

These relate to exceptional or emergency circumstances which could not have been anticipated e.g. where the school profile changes very significantly, or where other exceptional circumstances have arisen in a school and which may require a review of schools capacity to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who need it in the school, or of their utilisation of their allocations.

A process will also be available where schools can seek a review of their allocations in the coming months, including the utilisation of their allocations, in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.

As revised updated allocations have recently been issued to schools, this process will recommence in September 2019.

I am satisfied that there are in place a number of processes which can review the special education teacher allocation for schools where necessary.

This Government is investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.8bn being spent annually, about €1 in every 5 of the education budget.

There are currently over 13,400 special education teachers in schools, an increase of 37% since 2011.

There are therefore more special education teachers in schools now than we have ever had previously.

The very significant levels of additional provision we have made in recent years to provide additional Special Education Teachers means that all schools are resourced to provide for the special educational needs of children in their schools.