Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (216)

Éamon Ó Cuív


216. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the discussions he has had with the HSE and the Minister for Health to ensure investigations and tests required for a school to submit an application for a special needs assistant will be provided by the required date of February 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44464/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The consideration of professional reports is an integral part of determining the extent of supports to be provided for pupils with special educational needs.

However, whereas health reports provide valuable assistance to education providers in identifying a diagnosis or identifying appropriate interventions, health staff have been directed by the HSE not to include references to the specific quantum of educational resources in their reports, but should state the outcome of assessments carried out and the range of needs of the child as clearly as possible.

This is because, while a medical or relevant professional report can indicate the care needs that a child may have, the Health professional will not have knowledge or awareness of the current resources available to a school to cater for these care needs, will not be aware of the layout of the school, or have had an opportunity to observe the child in class or observe their interaction with their teachers and classmates on an ongoing basis.

It is the role of the The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to process applications from schools for SNA support, taking into account the frequency and extent of the care needs as referenced in the professional report, the manner in which they arise in a school setting and in this regard, the evidence the school can provide to support the application. The NCSE can also consult with other professional bodies e.g. NEPS and will allocate a level of SNA support to a school to ensure that the school has sufficient resources to cater for the significant care needs of the relevant children who are enrolled in the school for whom it has been indicated that there is a care requirement.

The NCSE is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

It is my Department's policy that every child assessed as requiring SNA support will have access to such support.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.