Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (565)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

565. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase special education provision by 15% on the 2018 level. [33581/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy aims to ensure that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in mainstream school settings.

In 2018, in the region of €1.75 billion was invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget, and up 43% since 2011. The estimate cost to increase special education provision by 15% on the 2018 level would be €0.263 billion.

Funding for special education provision in 2019 will amount to approximately €1.9 billion which is an increase of €0.15 billion (8.5%.) over 2018.

The funding includes provision for the following:

- Up to 15,950 Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts in primary, post primary and special schools by the end of 2019, assisting children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs arising from a disability.

- Approximately 13,400 Special Education teaching posts in mainstream primary and post primary schools. Special Education teachers support the mainstream class teacher by providing additional teaching support for pupils with special educational needs in schools.

- Approximately 1,600 special classes in mainstream schools for the 2019-20 school year, compared to 548 special classes in 2011. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) continues to engage with schools in relation to opening special classes where there is an identified need for special class provision.

- 124 special schools with 1500 teachers providing specialist education for pupils with the most complex special needs.

- Assistive technology/specialised equipment where it is essential in order for students to access the curriculum, in accordance with the criteria as set out in DES Circular 0010/2013

- School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs

- Enhanced capitation grants for special schools and special classes attached to mainstream primary and post primary schools.

- Modification of school buildings.

I am satisfied that the level of provision we have made in recent years has ensured that all children with special educational needs can participate in education, and that most children with special educational needs have been able to be enrolled in the school, or placement of their choice.

There are circumstances where it can be difficult for parents to obtain the school, or special class, placement of their choice, where increases in population, or other issues, have led to pressure on school places.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is actively engaging with schools, patron bodies, parents and other staff to try to ensure each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2019/20 school year.

Ensuring every child has access to a suitable school placement is a priority for me and my Department and we will continue to ensure that this can be provided for.