Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (213)

Michael McGrath


213. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken to ensure that a child (details supplied) in County Cork with additional needs receives an appropriate second-level school place for the 2020/2021 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4486/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Ensuring that every child has a suitable school placement is a key objective of my Department. Significant resources are allocated each year to ensure that appropriate supports are available for children with special educational needs.

Since 2011, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased almost threefold, from 548 to 1,618 for the 2019/2020 school year; with 1,353 of these catering for children with autism.

There are 195 special classes and 13 special schools in the Cork area providing specialist support to children with more complex special educational needs.

A list of special classes for September 2019 is available on the NCSE website.

Budget 2020 provided for an additional 265 special class teachers in 2020, which will allow for the opening of additional classes where required.

The NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents; and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. In considering these applications, however, the NSCE, in conjunction with the school buildings unit of my Department, will be required to take into account the capacity of a school to establish such a class, including the provision of sufficient accommodation space within the school.

As the school referred to by the Deputy is currently in temporary accommodation, it has not been possible for the school to establish special class provision currently. A development plan for the school for future years will be required to address this issue. The school should therefore continue to engage with the NCSE in relation to this matter, and in the context of its capacity for ongoing development, as the NSCE is currently considering the additional special class placements which will be required for the 2020/21 school year.

The NCSE is aware that a number of students in this school have professional reports recommending special class placement, including the student referred to by the Deputy.

The school was provided with 2 additional Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) for this school year and recently had its special education teaching (S.E.T.) allocation increased, following an exceptional review of this allocation.

The NCSE's Local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise both the school and the parents of the student in relation to special class provision in other schools in the area.

As this question relates to an individual student, I have arranged for it to be referred to the NCSE for direct reply.