Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Questions (89)

Joe Carey


89. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to a query (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22423/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary. The NCSE ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE to establish a special class. 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 SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

There are 37 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Clare. Of these, 2 are ASD early intervention classes, 20 are primary ASD classes and 7 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Clare has increased from 5 in 2011/2012 to 29 in 2018/2019.

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

The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish over 175 new special classes of which approx. 165 are new ASD special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year to meet currently identified need.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. Where Parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

The NCSE have advised that there are currently no pupils without a placement option in the area referred to by the Deputy.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required.

In those circumstances, the NCSE and the Department are actively engaging with schools, patrons bodies, parents and others stakeholders to bring the required additional special class placements on stream.