Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (238)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

238. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if extra supports for children residing in direct provision centres attending local schools will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44770/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department engages on an ongoing basis with officials in the Department of Justice & Equality in relation to education issues arising from the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees. For the past number of years, my Department has seconded an official to the Department of Justice and Equality to support the arrangement of education provision for children residing in accommodation centres. This arrangement facilitates close liaison with relevant areas of my Department in relation to education provision. This official is also available to advise schools on specific queries arising, including on the range of supports available to schools and on how to access supports. Tusla Educational Welfare Service (EWS), which is under the remit of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, assists with school enrolment and attendance.

As new Centres are identified, and once the numbers and age ranges of the children are identified, my Department will ensure that where the increase in the numbers of students entitles the school to an additional teaching allocation, this will be provided as soon as possible. Where the enrolment of the children resident in the Direct Provision Centre entitles the school to an additional teaching allocation for English as an Additional Language (EAL), this will be provided as soon as possible.

Where the increased enrolment requires an increase in the school’s special educational needs teacher profile, they will receive, as soon as possible, 5 additional Special Education Teaching hours for every 25 additional pupils who are enrolled, or a proportion of five hours if less than 25, where the number of enrolments are material, i.e. 5 pupils or more. Additional Special Needs Assistant provision is currently provided for identified additional care needs which is contingent upon assessments being carried out.

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts is published annually on my Department’s website. The staffing arrangements as set out in Circular 0019/2019 available on my Department’s website operates in a clear and transparent manner. The staffing arrangements also include an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an Independent Appeals Board.