I assure the Deputy that concerns regarding a shortage of appropriate school places for next September are being taken very seriously. The Taoiseach, Deputy 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 26 April. My Department, the NCSE and the office of An Taoiseach were represented at a meeting with parents on 29 April to discuss the issue.
My Department, the NCSE and school patrons are actively engaging to address the 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 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, other arrangements will be made following any necessary consultation with parents and schools. Options are being examined and scoped out in regard to establishing additional special school places to cater for the needs of children in Dublin 15. Officials of my Department are engaging with patron bodies, including Dublin and Dún 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.