Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (309)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

309. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in the Dublin 2 and 4 areas with an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit or special needs unit; his plans to build more units; if so, the locations of same; and the estimated timeframe for them coming online. [19014/19]

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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 special 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. 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 team of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs), who are locally based, is available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs.  They also assist and advise schools in making decisions in this area.

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 Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

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.

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. 

Special Classes can be established within a schools existing accommodation. In such circumstances the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. 

In the case of all new schools, it is general practice to include a Special Education Needs Base (SEN Base) in the accommodation brief for new school buildings, unless local circumstances indicate that it will not be required. Typically, a two classroom SEN Base is provided in new primary schools and a two or four classroom SEN Base is provided in new post primary schools.

All school capital projects that have been approved by my Department under the Additional Accommodation Scheme, including special needs accommodation, may be viewed on my Department’s website, www.education.ie and this is updated regularly.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs in Dublin by postcode are available on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie