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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 March 2021

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Questions (137)

Duncan Smith

Question:

137. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Education the number of placements available to a special school for a child aged 7 in north County Dublin; and the actions that can be taken for a child who has been offered a place in mainstream school with a SNA which is totally unsuitable for the child. [12282/21]

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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.

This year, over 20% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs. As a result, the numbers of special education teachers, SNAs and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.

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. However, the active collaboration of school communities is essential in this regard.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and special school places nationally, to meet identified need. This process is ongoing.

Notwithstanding the extent of the investment in special education and the supports which have been put in place, I am also very conscious that there are some parts of the country, including the area referenced, where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.

I can assure the Deputy that the NCSE is acutely aware of these concerns and is continuing its engagement with schools, patron bodies, parents and other stakeholders to bring the required additional special education placements on stream.

My Department will continue to support the NCSE and schools through the provision of the necessary funding and capital investment to ensure all children are successful in accessing an education and I want to reassure you that the delivery of the necessary additional provision is being progressed as an absolute priority.

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.

I can also reassure the Deputy that the local SENOs continue to be available to assist and advise parents of children with special educational needs.

Information on the list of schools with special classes together with SENO contact details is available at www.ncse.ie

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