I propose to take Questions Nos. 428 and 429 together.
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. The Council 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 application to the NCSE to establish a 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.
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 Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advice parents whose children have special needs. SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.
The NCSE have advised that for the 2019/20 school year there will be a total of 1,353 Autism Special Classes. This includes 134 Early Intervention classes, 849 ASD classes at primary level and 370 ASD classes at post-primary level. Each ASD Special class provides 6 placements.
Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available in tabular form by county on the NCSE website at https://ncse.ie/special-classes.