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 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.
The NCSE's local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise both schools and the parents of children with special educational needs. Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list
In circumstances, where no placement is available for a child with special educational needs, the Department can provide Home Tuition grant funding towards the provision of 20 hours home tuition per week as an interim measure until the NCSE confirms that a placement is available.
Home Tuition will not however be available where a school placement has been identified by the NCSE. Similarly, failure to enrol a child in school will not give rise to eligibility under this scheme.