Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (311)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


311. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to work collaboratively with the Teaching Council to review the national third-level teacher training curriculum to improve the level of training for teachers at third-level in order that all qualified teachers feel competent and are sufficiently supported in teaching children with additional needs in mainstream settings in view of the acute rise in the number of school age children being diagnosed as autistic; and his plans to create new pathways for special needs assistants that would like to upskill to the level of special education teachers. [35233/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility for the regulation of the teaching profession including the registration of teachers in Ireland.

The Teaching Council's (Registration) Regulations 2016 set out the requirements to be registered as a teacher in Ireland. Under these regulations there are four defined routes to registration, namely Route 1 Primary; Route 2 Post-Primary; Route 3 Further Education; Route 4 Other.

My Department has no plans to amend the Teaching Council's (Registration) Regulations 2016 to include a special education teacher category.

Inclusive education is mandatory in all initial teacher education programmes in Ireland. Under Section 38 of the Teaching Council Act, all initial teacher education programmes are subject to review and accreditation by the Teaching Council, in accordance with the Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers (published in 2011 and revised in March 2017). In accordance with these Criteria and Guidelines, inclusive education is a mandatory component for all students in ITE. Inclusive education encompasses education of children with special educational needs, including autism.

The learning outcomes of ITE programmes also reflect the need for the teacher to be able to conduct a systematic, holistic assessment of learner needs; to apply knowledge of the individual potential of students, their disposition towards learning and their backgrounds, identities and learning styles to their teaching; to set clear, challenging and achievable expectations for pupils; to evaluate learner progress; to act as an advocate for students, referring students for educational support as required and participating in the provision of that support, amongst other relevant outcomes. 

The Teaching Council is currently carrying out a review of the impact of the current programmes, with a view to amending the Criteria and Guidelines before the next round of accreditation commences in 2020.

The National Council for Special Education report published on Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion: Phase 1 and 2 (NCSE Research Report No. 26), found that there is in general much good practice related to inclusive education in ITE, particularly in relation to the fostering of positive attitudes to inclusion, while also noting scope for further alignment between theory and practice, in particular as between student placement and the university experience. These findings are being considered by the Teaching Council in the course of its review, outlined above.