I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 70 together.
I am aware of concerns regarding the operation of the Home Tuition scheme.
The Special Education Home Tuition Grant scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs seeking an educational placement for whom such a placement is not available. The scheme also provides for early intervention for children with Autism.
The application forms and related Circular for this year’s scheme were published on 8 August 2019. Last year, the forms and circular were published on 26 July 2018.
The Department works closely with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which has responsibility for working with families and schools and for the provision and coordination of an adequate number of specialist educational places to meet local demand throughout the country.
The NCSE has a national network of Special Educational Needs Officers (SENOs) to plan the necessary provision to meet local need. SENOs assist and advise parents experiencing difficulty finding a suitable school place for their child.
Where a parent cannot secure a suitable school place for their child, they can make an application to the Department for the Home Tuition Grant. The Home Tuition Grant provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children until a school placement is available. By its nature, it is intended to be a short term intervention.
The application is signed by the NCSE local SENO to confirm that no school placement is currently available for the child. SENOs are processing home tuition applications as a matter of urgency.
The Home Tuition Application form outlines that it may take the Department up to 15 working days to process home tuition applications. Since applications opened in this academic year, 699 applications have been approved. Currently, there are 90 applications on hand and these will be processed within the 15 day period.
Home Tutors are engaged by the parents/guardian of the child who is to receive tuition. Home tutors do not have a contractual relationship with the Department.
The operation of the scheme will be reviewed during the current academic year.