Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (186)

Eoin Ó Broin


186. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the school supports in place for a person (details supplied); the number of waiting lists for schools with special classes they are on; and when they will be provided with a place in a special class as recommended in the educational assessment. [39275/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Enabling children with Special Educational Needs including Autism to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for me and the Government. 

Nearly one euro in every five of this budget, about €1.9 billion, is invested in supporting children with special educational needs in schools. 

Since 2011, the Government has increased the number of Special education teachers from 9,740 to over 13,400 and the number of Special Needs Assistants from 10,575 to 15,950. 

We have also increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,621 across the country now.  

In addition places in the 124 special schools for students with the most complex special educational needs have increased from 6,848 to 8,000 across the country now. 

This ensures that a continuum of special educational provision, including special class and special school placements, is made available for children with special educational needs, so that regardless of the level of need of the child, educational provision can be made for them. 

The greater proportion of children with special education needs attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports, including additional teaching and SNA support, if required.  

But some students may find it difficult to manage full-time placement in mainstream and so placement in a Special Class or Special School setting is sometimes deemed more appropriate. 

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 the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where the NCSE identifies need. 

The NCSE have well established structures 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 specialised placements. 

The NCSE team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist parents to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs and to discuss their child's special educational needs. The local SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.  

The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents/guardians of the child and the Board of Management of a school.   

My Department has no role either in making or deciding on enrolment applications to schools or keeping waiting lists. In these matters, schools are required to adhere to the requirements of relevant legislation and the policies of my department. 

Where there is no school placement available for a child with Special Educational Needs, funding for the provision of home tuition is available to Parents as an interim measure until a placement becomes available. The availability of a school placement is assessed by the local SENO having regard the relevant diagnosis and relevant professional report. 

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply.