Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (210)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

210. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children participating in a pilot programme specialised therapists into schools and preschools in 2018 and to date in 2019. [53097/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services was introduced for the 2018/19 school year and has been continuing as part of a wider pilot of a new School Inclusion Model for children with special educational and additional care needs over the course of the 2019/20 school year.

The demonstration project has been developed by a Working Group which includes representatives from the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs, Health, and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. This innovative pilot will complement existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services. 

The project is taking place in Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.

This region has been selected to ensure that the pre-school and in-school therapy model can be tested in both urban and rural locations and with a suitable mix of various types of schools and pre-schools.  

75 schools, including a representative sample of primary, post primary, and special schools are taking part in the project.

75 Pre-school settings associated with primary schools participating in the project are being included in order to provide for therapy interventions to be made at the earliest possible time and to create linkages between pre-school and primary school provision. 

In total, 150 settings are participating in the demonstration project. 

The demonstration project has used a tiered model of providing supports for schools and pre-schools which is based on a universal whole school and classroom model, whereby Speech and Language Therapists provide whole school support for students ‘oral language and communications skills and also provide training for teachers and parents in speech language and communication needs.

In pre-schools Speech and Language Therapists, support the development of a language-rich environment at pre-school and in the home. 

Occupational Therapists assist the development of the concept of ‘sensory friendly environments’ to support all students engagement within the learning environment - whole school support for self-regulation skills, social engagement and motor skills to promote meaningful participation of all students.

As such, it is expected that all of the children who are attending the 75 schools, and 75 pre-schools, which have been participating in the demonstration project will have been participating in the project in some form. There are approximately 23,500 pupils attending the 75 project schools and some additional 3000 children attending the 75 pre-school settings.