Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (526)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

526. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit for a school (details supplied). [38804/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government. Next year, over 20% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs.

This investment will support the provision of over 1,200 additional special class places.

Notwithstanding the extent of this investment, there are some parts of the country where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. Through better planning at both national and local level, it is my objective that specialist education places should come on stream to meet emerging demand on a timely basis.

The NCSE is actively working with schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, to establish special classes. It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE to open a special class. The active collaboration of school communities is vital to the effective inclusion of students with special educational needs.

My Department understands that the local SENO has had recent communication with the school referred to by the Deputy and the school are considering their capacity to open a special class.

The NCSE has advised that there are currently 10 post primary schools with 18 ASD classes supporting students with autism in Kildare. Information on special class provision for the current school-year can be found on the NCSE website at:

https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/List-of-Special-Classes-September-2020.15.09.2020-1.pdf.

Parents should also be advised to contact their local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENO) if they experience any difficulty in getting a suitable placement. SENO contact details are on the NCSE website at : https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list.