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Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021

Written Answers Nos. 932-951

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (932)

Niall Collins

Question:

932. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 923 of 24 March 2021, if she will further review and advise on correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18331/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Education Training Boards (ETBs) routinely employ people by way of non-pay grants, none of whom have public service pension status. The issue of staff funded from non-pay grant payments such as the staff member in question has been, and remains a subject of consideration at central government level.

In relation to the further pay related issues raised by the person in question, I understand that officials in my Department have contacted the relevant ETB in regard to same and the ETB will make direct contact with the person concerned.

School Transport

Questions (933)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

933. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education if she will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18335/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

The purpose of the Department's School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability.

In general, children with special educational needs are eligible for school transport if they are attending the nearest school that is resourced to meet their special educational needs. Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO).

Based on the information on the application form, the child referred to by the Deputy is not attending their nearest school that is resourced to meet their special educational needs, and is therefore not eligible for Special Educational Needs Transport. School Transport Section has been in contact wtih the family in this regard.

Third Level Education

Questions (934)

Pa Daly

Question:

934. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Education if she will take steps to allow graduates of Trinity College Dublin in deaf studies to apply for a professional master of education enabling them to teach in mainstream schools. [18342/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility for establishing and maintaining standards in the teaching profession in this State. It is also the designated competent authority for the recognition and assessment of qualifications and registration of teachers at Primary and Post Primary level.

ITE programmes for primary and post primary teachers are facilitated through a range of concurrent (undergraduate) and consecutive (postgraduate) programmes. Any potential applicants to these programmes must meet the entry requirements for their preferred programme.

I understand that the preferred entry route to teaching for candidates who hold an undergraduate degree such as Bachelor in Deaf Studies is the postgraduate entry route to teaching. This is a two year course leading to a Professional Master of Education (PME).

I wish to advise the Deputy that prospective candidates for entry to the primary PME, must hold a Minimum H2.2 Honours Bachelor Degree (Major Award at Level 8 or higher on the National Framework of Qualifications) which has a ECTS credit weighting of at least 180 credits. Candidates must also meet the required Minimum Entry Requirements in Irish, English and Mathematics in the relevant year.

In line with the Teaching Council’s Regulations prospective candidates for entry to the post primary PME must hold a Level 8 degree (or equivalent) and also meet the requirements for at least one post-primary curricular subject in order to meet the registration requirement as set down by the Teaching Council. Details of the current and revised curricular requirements are available on the Teaching Council’s website.

Schools Administration

Questions (935)

Seán Canney

Question:

935. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Education her views on the naming of special needs schools as special; if she will consider removing the word special from the name of such schools as this may attach a stigma to the schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18372/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has no role in this matter. The naming of a school is the responsibility of the school's patron.

The Deputy will be aware of the recent announcement of two new special schools in Cork and Dublin. Arrangements for the establishment of the new school in Cork are at a vey early stage but I can confirm that the name designated by the patron to the new school in Dublin is Our Lady of Hope School.

School Curriculum

Questions (936)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

936. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Education her plans to develop an inclusive sexual health education programme across primary and post-primary levels that includes an inclusive programme on LGBTI+ relationships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18379/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Access to sexual and health education is an important right for students. Schools have a responsibility to provide for this, in consultation with parents, having regard to the ethos of the school. Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is a mandatory curriculum subject in all primary schools and in post-primary junior cycle. Relationships and Sexuality Education (or RSE) is required at all levels, from primary through to senior cycle. The Department has set out the content for each of these programmes in SPHE syllabuses and guidelines.

The Programme for Government states that ‘this Government will develop inclusive and age appropriate curricula for Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) across primary and post-primary schools, including an inclusive programme on LGBTI+ relationships’ .

In April 2018, the then Minister for Education and Skills Mr. Richard Bruton asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to undertake a major review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools across all stages of education to ensure that it is fit for purpose and meets the needs of young people today in modern Ireland. The NCCA advises the Department and Minister in relation to the curriculum to be taught in schools.

The Report on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in primary and post-primary schools was published by the NCCA on 11th of December, 2019.

For the purpose of this review and for future work in primary and post-primary curriculum developments, the NCCA describes RSE as a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of relationships and sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to develop self-awareness and self-esteem, realise their health, wellbeing and dignity; develop positive and respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own wellbeing and that of others; and, understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to themselves and others.

The NCCA was asked to look at a number of specific issues in respect of RSE and the curriculum. These included but were not limited to consent; developments in relation to contraception; healthy positive, sexual expression and relationships; safe use of the Internet and social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem; and LGBTQ+ matters.

The NCCA has established two development groups, one for primary and one for post-primary, to oversee the work in this area and support the development of guidance material for schools. These groups were unable to commence their work due to the COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings. However, the NCCA began convening meetings with these groups as of October 2020 which allows them to review significant work that has been progressed. Both the primary and post primary SPHE/RSE Development Groups have been meeting successfully via Zoom on a monthly basis since the groups were convened in October.

The immediate focus of the work in on creating support materials for teachers for publication online as part of the Interim Guidance Toolkit. The toolkit's purpose is to support effective teaching and learning of SPHE/RSE linked to the current curriculum. This work is progressing well and the first section of the toolkit (a portal repository of teaching and learning resources linked to the Primary SPHE Curriculum, the SPHE JC Short Course and SC SPHE Framework) is now published and a second section is due to be published at the end of April.

Further sections of the toolkit will be added over the coming weeks/months. To visit the primary toolkit go to this link https://www.curriculumonline.ie/Primary/Curriculum-Areas/Social,-Personal-and-Health-Education/Junior-and-Senior-Infants/?lang=en-ie

To visit the junior cycle toolkit go to this link https://www.curriculumonline.ie/Junior-cycle/Short-Courses/SPHE/SPHE-RSE-toolkit/?lang=en-ie/

To visit the senior cycle toolkit go to this link https://www.curriculumonline.ie/Senior-cycle/SPHE-(1)/SPHE-Toolkit/?lang=en-ie

In tandem with the development of the online Toolkit, preparation for redeveloping and updating the SPHE curriculum has begun, with an initial focus on Junior Cycle. The review of the current Junior Cycle SPHE course has been drafted and will be considered by the NCCA’s board by the summer. Subsequent work on developing the new Junior Cycle curriculum will begin in September.

NCCA research into the provision of SPHE/RSE across 5 countries/jurisdictions has been completed. This provides a useful overview of the learning in relationships and sexuality education that children and young people encounter across primary and post-primary schooling in a range of countries and will help inform the NCCA's curriculum development work in this area. The report has been finalised and is informing the ongoing work being done by the development group.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (937)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

937. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education the number of children with a diagnosis of autism that need access to an ASD specific unit given that they are as yet without a confirmed school place for the coming academic year in September 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18396/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

It is my belief that children with special educational needs should receive their education in placements which are appropriate to their needs alongside their peers wherever possible unless such an approach would be inconsistent with the best interests of the individual child or other children in the school.

This approach is consistent with the provisions of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004.

My Department's policy is therefore to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools. The majority of children with special needs attend mainstream education with additional supports

This policy is supported by significant investment by this Government. The Department of Education will spend approximately €2 Billion or over 20% of its total educational budget in 2021 on making additional provision for children with special educational needs this year.

Only where it has been assessed that the child is unable to be supported in mainstream education, are special class placements or special school placements recommended and provided for.

It is therefore not the case that special educational placements are required to support all children with special educational needs, nor is it intended that this should be the case.

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

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.

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.

Through ongoing consultation at local level, the NCSE is also aware of those parents whose children will be seeking placement for the 2021/22 academic year, including mainstream placement with appropriate support, special class placement, Early Intervention and special school placement. The NCSE continues to work to identify any and all relevant suitable placements.

I should also clarify that the NCSE does not maintain waiting lists for schools. Boards of management of individual schools are responsible for such enrolment matters.

The NCSE is working with schools to encourage and support the opening of new special classes at all levels and has specific plans in place to increase the number of places available.

The Deputy will be aware of the process underway in South Dublin under Section 37A of the Education Act, 1998. Statutory notices issued under the Act together with the representations received from the schools and their patrons are published on my Department’s website.

I also announced the establishment of a new special school (Our Lady of Hope School) in Crumlin, Dublin 12 last December. Both the NCSE and my Department are working closely with the patron and the school's management team on the practical arrangements required to progress this project as speedily as possible, Minister Foley and I have also recently announced additional provision in Cork including the establishment of a new special school to help cater for demand in that area for September, 2021.

Finally, I can reassure the Deputy that the local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) continue to be 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 .

Information on the list of schools with special classes, the types and locations of these classes is published on the NCSE website and is available at www.ncse.ie

An Teanga Gaeilge

Questions (938)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

938. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education cén fáth nach raibh leagan Gaeilge den Return to Educational Facility Parental Declaration Form, 78 focal san iomlán, a d’eisigh an Lárionad Faire um Chosaint Sláinte de chuid Fheidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte, ar fáil do thuismitheoirí mac léinn a fhreastalaíonn ar scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge, go háirithe os rud é gurbh éigean an fhoirm a bheith líonta acu dá bpáistí sula dtabharfaí cead dóibh filleadh ar an scoil le linn na dianghlasála leibhéal 5 is déanaí, agus an nglacann sé leis go bhfuil dualgas air agus ar FSS leaganacha Gaeilge d’fhoirmeacha den sórt sin a chur ar fáil go huathoibríoch, agus nach cóir go mbeadh ar phríomhoidí nó ar thuismitheoirí dul á lorg nó iad a aistriú. [18407/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Tréimhse dhúshlánach a bhí ann do gach duine a bhí bainteach leis an obair lena chinntiú go leanann scoileanna ar aghaidh ag feidhmiú ar bhealach sábháilte agus inbhuanaithe. Tá obair fós ag dul ar aghaidh sa réimse seo de réir mar a fhorbraíonn nádúr an dúshláin agus an t-oibriú ar réitigh diaidh ar ndiaidh i gcomhréir leis an gcineál comhairle sláinte phoiblí atá ag athrú. Is gnáthnós agus gnáthchleachtas é go ndéantar doiciméid a fhoilsiú as Gaeilge agus as Béarla ag an am céanna agus tá mo Roinn go mór ar an eolas faoinár ndualgais maidir leis seo agus oibríonn sí chun cásanna a sheachaint dá bhfuil tagairt déanta ag an Teachta.

Tá an doiciméad aistrithe a bhfuil tagairt déanta ag an Teachta dó ar fáil ag an nasc https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/educationguidance/Return%20to%20Educational%20Facility%20Declaration%20Form%20Irish.doc .

Special Educational Needs

Questions (939)

Seán Fleming

Question:

939. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education the position in relation to the in-person supplementary programme for children with special educational needs in view of the fact that it might be difficult during the Covid-19 situation to have this supplied in homes; the alternative arrangements that can be put in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18421/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The supplementary programme is intended to supplement the teaching and learning provided by the student’s school and alleviate the impact of this period of school closure through the provision of one to one in-person teaching or care support to be delivered in homes.

The programme provided 20 hours of support for pupils that had returned to school on March 1st and 30 hours for all other pupils.

The Department’s approach is intended to be flexible so as to maximise the number of students participating.

The programme can be delivered outside of the normal school day (i.e. evenings and weekends), so that the student can continue to engage as fully as possible with the teaching and learning provided by their school.

Any unused hours can be delivered to families at any time before 30th April 2021, including during the Easter holidays.

The scheme is intended to deliver one to one support to eligible pupils to meet their individual needs.

Following representations to my Department by a number of schools, parents, management bodies and by the Ombudsman for Children the Department can confirm that the running of the supplementary programme in schools is an authorised activity.

It is therefore open to any Board of Management, if they so wish, to make their school premises available to facilitate the running of the supplementary programme.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (940)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

940. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education if she has received correspondence from a school (details supplied); and if she has reviewed same. [18422/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have received the correspondence referred to and I can confirm that following review, a response has been issued to the school principal and to Minister O'Donovan.

School Staff

Questions (941)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

941. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of a submission by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18441/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that the school in question applied for funding under SWS 2020 for the replacement of Windows (Category 7).

The Deputy may be aware that the Minister announced details of the schools that will receive funding in summer 2021 in respect of applications submitted for Roof projects (Category 2) and Toilet Facilities projects (Category 6).

Commensurate with the level of funding set aside for the Scheme, applications are being assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular accompanying the Scheme. In that regard, applications submitted for other works will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme. The school in question will be considered in this regard.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (942)

Robert Troy

Question:

942. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education the services that should be put in place by a primary school for a student who has a diagnosis of severe dyslexia and also dyspraxia; and the full in-class and home supports which should be put in place. [18470/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Thank you for your correspondence in relation to resources and supports available to pupils with dyslexia.

The Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools, which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs, including pupils with Specific Learning Disability (SLD); of which Dyslexia is one such SLD, in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is a separate statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for the provision of special educational needs supports to schools. The NCSE operates within the Department's criteria in allocating such support

All Primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources to cater for children with special educational needs, including pupils with dyslexia. In September 2017 the Department introduced a new model to support pupils with special educational needs in our schools. The new model differs significantly from the old Resource Allocation Model, in that Special Education Teacher allocation is now frontloaded into schools to support children with special educational needs. Rather than having to make individual application to the NCSE for additional supports schools can now respond to individual needs in a flexible way and pupils do not have to have a psychological assessment, or a diagnosis of a disability, in order to access Special Education Teaching. This means that those with highest level of need can access the highest level of support within the school in a timely manner.

Guidelines for schools on the organisation, deployment and use of their special education teachers have been published on the Department’s website, at http://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Special-Education/Guidelines-for-Primary-Schools-Supporting-Pupils-with-Special-Educational-Needs-in-Mainstream-Schools.pdf Schools are supported in this regard by the National Educational Psychological Services.

Emergency Works Scheme

Questions (943)

Joe Carey

Question:

943. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education the status on an emergency works application by a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18474/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding has been approved under my Departments Emergency Works Scheme to replace the oil storage tank at the school in question. As this is a devolved project it is the responsibility of the school authority to progress the works.

School Staff

Questions (944)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

944. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education if she will review the current requirements in place at a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18511/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy, that I understand that the Patron body of the school in question has deferred the tender competition for one year.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (945)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

945. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education if she will respond to concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18522/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The new vaccination roll out schedule, which was recommended to government by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and endorsed by the NPHET, is that the remainder of the population after Group 9 will be completed on an age basis from those aged 64 years and younger, and that this decision will replace the previous groupings in the original plan. The evidence is clear that hospitalisation and death risk increases with age, while a review conducted by NIAC did not see any occupational group emerge as being at higher risk of morbidity or mortality. The risk of someone aged 55-64 with COVID-19 is 70 times higher in terms of death, over 20 times higher in terms of ICU admission and 5 times higher in terms of hospitalisation when compared to the risk facing someone aged 20-34 with COVID-19. I appreciate this change in schedule has been a cause of upset and disappointment for many in the education sector, and also in other sectors.

The move to an age-based model supports the vaccination programme objectives by protecting those at highest risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death first regardless of occupation.

The Department remains committed to regular engagement with the education partners and will continue to engage with unions and management bodies on all issues concerning Covid-19.

Departmental Reports

Questions (946, 947, 948, 952)

Pat Buckley

Question:

946. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to a recent report (details supplied) and its contents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18542/21]

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Pat Buckley

Question:

947. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the findings of a report and its findings (details supplied); her plans to address the school place shortages in east County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18543/21]

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Pat Buckley

Question:

948. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if an impact assessment of demand for additional school places across the east Cork local electoral area catchment area has been carried out (details supplied). [18544/21]

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Pat Buckley

Question:

952. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to capacity issues in east County Cork in primary and secondary level school places; if an assessment of the situation will be carried out with a view to increasing capacity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18548/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 946 to 948, inclusive, and 952 together.

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, including Child Benefit and school enrolment data, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise and where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

The most recent analysis undertaken by my Department projects that over 60% of the 314 school planning areas at primary level have stable or decreasing projected enrolments for the period to 2024, whereas some 90% of the school planning areas at post-primary level are anticipated to have increased enrolments for the period to 2027.

The level of demand volume across school planning areas with an increasing net requirement ranges from small to medium increases that are likely to be accommodated by existing schools through to significant projected growth that may require additional provision. This Department’s most recent projections indicate continued increasing demand for post primary school places in East County Cork, particularly in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area. There is an anticipated reduction in overall demand at primary level, in line with national trends.

My Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional post-primary school places in a number of school planning areas including East Cork.

Where capacity issues arise it may not be as a result of lack of accommodation but may be driven by the following factors:

- Duplication of applications – pupils have applied for a place to a number of schools in the area

- School of choice – pupils can’t get a place in their preferred school while there are places in other schools in the town/area

- Some towns/areas have single sex schools and while places are available in the school there are not available to all pupils

- External draw – pupils coming from outside the local area.

My Department is engaging with all school authorities in East Cork in relation to post-primary school places for September 2021 and all available options are being considered.

To assist in the process of providing additional second level places in East Cork for 2021 the following measures have been taken to date:

- The Department has recently agreed to a change in status from single sex to co-educational at Colaiste na Toirbhirte Bandon to cater for increased demographics for 2021 onwards.

- Additional temporary accommodation has been approved for Carrigtwohill Community College for 2021/22 pending provision of their new permanent school.

- Approved an extension to St. Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill to expand the school to cater for 1,000 pupils.

In addition, my Department has recently approved an application for additional interim accommodation for Pobailscoil na Trionoide Youghal for 2021/22 pending completion of the approved additional accommodation project for this school which is to expand the school to cater for 1,200 pupils.

School Accommodation

Questions (949, 950, 951)

Pat Buckley

Question:

949. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that over 50 children requiring a place in an ASD unit or special school place in east County Cork do not have a secondary school place for September 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18545/21]

View answer

Pat Buckley

Question:

950. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if an impact assessment will be carried out on the lack of special secondary school places in east County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18546/21]

View answer

Pat Buckley

Question:

951. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education if an impact assessment will be carried out on the lack of primary special school places and ASD places in east County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18547/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 949 to 951, inclusive, together.

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.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide.

The majority of special schools cater for students up to the age of 18. However, in the event that students are transitioning from a special school to a post-primary school, such enrolment applications are a matter for each individual board of management and the NCSE does not hold such records.

The NCSE, through its local network of SENOs (Special Educational Needs Organisers), is available to provide advice and support to parents of students that are due to transition to post-primary on the possible placement options available to their child, including mainstream placement with appropriate support, special class placement and special school placement. Post-primary placements are supported with additional resources where required.

The Deputy will be aware of the recent announcement whereby Minister Foley and I have secured a significant expansion of special school provision in Cork through the establishment of a new special school and increased capacity in an existing special school to meet the needs of children in the Cork area.

The new provision will see the establishment of a new special school in Carrigaline which will have the capacity to provide 48 school places. It will provide for the needs of children with autism and general learning disability up to eighteen years of age.

The provision will also provide for a change to the designation of St. Mary’s Special School, Rochestown to cater for children with a dual diagnosis of learning disability and autism with 12 new school places becoming available for September 2021.

Priority will now be given to those children who currently do not have an offer of a school place for next September.

The provision of 60 additional special school placements is to cater for the immediate requirements. I can assure the Deputy that my Department and the NCSE continue to work towards the development of additional placements in the Cork area to meet ongoing and future demand.

The NCSE's local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) remains available to parents. Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list. As information on available special education places changes as the school year progresses, parents are advised to maintain contact with their local SENOs.

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