Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Questions (81)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

81. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options available in terms of transport provision for children including children with special educational needs not attending their nearest primary and post-primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22922/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

The purpose of the Primary and Post Primary School Transport Schemes is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. In general children are eligible for school transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school having regard to ethos and language.

Children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of the Primary and Post Primary School Transport Schemes and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where there are existing services with spare seats available after eligible children have been accommodated. In this regard families should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the availability of transport on a concessionary basis for the next school year.

In general, children with special educational needs are eligible for school transport if they are attending the nearest school that is resourced to meet their educational needs. Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers.

Children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of the Special Educational Needs Scheme may be accommodated on existing services, be offered a Special Transport Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements or have a new service established to provide them with transport from their home to school. Children who are not eligible for school transport under the terms of this scheme may also apply for transport on a concessionary basis where suitable services are available.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.