I propose to take Questions Nos. 389 and 390 together.
I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Education teachers support the mainstream class teacher by providing additional teaching support for pupils with special educational needs, or additional learning needs, in schools.
DES Circular 007/2019 for primary schools and 008/2019 for post primary schools set out the details of the model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile. This model has replaced the previous model of allocating resource teaching support and learning support to schools.
The Special Education Teacher allocation, allows schools to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who require such support in their schools and for schools to deploy resources based on each pupil’s individual learning needs.
It gives greater flexibility to schools as to how they can deploy their resources, to take account of the actual learning needs pupils have, as opposed to being guided by a particular diagnosis of disability, and schools are guided as to how they should make such allocation decisions.
The school will take account of learning needs of children as evidenced by performance in schools but also supported where relevant by information provided regarding the nature of a condition that a pupil may have.
The Department of Education and Skills has published guidelines for schools as to how they should utilise and deploy their resources under the new allocation model, which are available at www.education.ie.
The guidelines support schools in how they identify pupils for additional teaching support and decide how much support to provide for pupils who need it.
Under the special education teacher allocation model schools are frontloaded with resources, based on each schools profile, to provide supports immediately to those pupils who need it without delay.
Children who need support can have that support provided immediately rather than having to wait for a diagnosis.
Children do not have to be labelled with a particular condition to qualify for extra teaching assistance.
The model gives greater freedom to schools to give extra teaching help to the pupils who most need it, regardless of their diagnosis.
Schools also do not have to give a set amount of time to pupils based on their disability category. They can give the most assistance to the pupils who need the support most and allocate resources based on needs.
Children who have additional learning needs in school, including those children who have additional learning needs associated with attainment in literacy, can receive additional teaching support in schools, regardless of wheter the child has a diagnosis of dyslexia or not.
As decision on the allocation of additional teaching support is made locally by schools, based on learning need as opposed to being based on a diagnosis of dyslexia, my Department does not have details of the number of pupils in primary or post primary schools who have been diagnosed as having dyslexia or who have been recommended to receive additional support by an educational psychologist. No reading classes have been established following the introduction of the new special education teacher allocation model.