Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (114)

Seán Fleming


114. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appropriate person to contact in his Department regarding a document (details supplied) in respect of a family that has children with special needs in different schools and have difficulty in taking their children to and from school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41005/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018.

The National Council for Special Education acts in an advisory role to the Department of Education and Skills on the suitability of placements for children with special needs.

When considering a new application for school transport in respect of pupils with special needs the Department will consider the report of the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO).

School transport is provided to children with special needs who are attending the nearest school to their place of residence that is or can be resourced to meet their educational needs, as identified by the SENO.

It has been reported by the SENO that one sibling of the family is not eligible for school transport under the terms of the scheme for children with special educational needs to the school referred to by the Deputy, and the other 2 siblings are eligible under the criteria for children with special educational needs but are not attending their nearest school.

Special concessionary transport for eligible children is a feature of the scheme, and a letter was issued to the family to advise they should contact the school transport office of my Department to examine the availability of suitable concessionary transport for the children who are eligible. To date this request has not been received by the Department.