Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Questions (189)

Anne Rabbitte


189. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he does not include children with diagnosed mental health issues in the transport scheme for children with special educational needs; the cost of including such children in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48567/19]

View answer

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 purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability. Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers.

Special transport arrangements on medical grounds may also be considered by the Department where a pupil has a medical condition, and the condition is such that it would prevent the child from making his/her own way to the school, or the pick-up point, as appropriate.

Where such applications are made, the Department requests that the pupil's GP complete an Application for School Transport on Medical Grounds, which outlines the nature and severity of the medical condition.  The form is then forwarded to the Medical Advisor, who, on the basis of the medical evidence submitted, determines whether the above conditions apply. 

Further information in regard to the school transport scheme is available on my Department’s website.