Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (357)

Thomas P. Broughan


357. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autism spectrum disorder, ASD, special classes in secondary schools, by county, in tabular form; the number of new classes that will be established in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35452/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary.

The NCSE works with families and schools to ensure that advance planning is in place so that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

It is open to any school to apply to the NCSE to open a special class for children with special educational needs. There is a package of teaching, special needs assistant, training and funding supports available to assist schools. When the NCSE sanctions a special class in a school, the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

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.

Special classes for students with ASD provide 6 placements and are staffed with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1.5 at post primary level.

167 new special classes will be opened for the 2019/20 school year, which means there will be 1,622 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011. Of these, 370 are Post Primary ASD special classes, compared to 72 in 2011.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available, in tabular form by county with new classes identified, on the NCSE website at

As the Deputy's question also relates to future projected need I have forwarded it to the NCSE for direct reply.