Written Answers. - County Cork Person with Special Needs.

Mary Wallace


452 Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education her views on whether the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork demonstrates that there must be flexibility when deciding that a person with special needs should move from the supportive and individually progress environment of a special school; whether she will ensure that he will be allowed to stay in his school place which is the most suitable for his personal development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16920/96]

I am aware of the case referred to by the Deputy and I wish to assure her that my Department has already shown significant flexibility in catering for the educational needs of the person in question.

This young man had been attending St. Paul's Special School at the COPE Foundation in Cork which, in common with all special schools, caters for children from four to 18 years of age. Having reached the age of 18 years on 24 August, 1995, he was due to leave St. Paul's at the end of the 1994-95 school year. However, as a very exceptional matter and in order to ensure that a fully suitable post-school placement would be available, he was allowed remain on roll for the 1995-96 school year.

During the past year, this person's former teachers at St. Paul's Special School and the authorities at the COPE foundation, have worked together to devise an appropriate post-school programme for the person in question and other young adults with similar needs.

The programme, which will be delivered at a vocational training centre located in the COPE complex, offers a continuation of the services which this person received at St. Paul's and aims at building on the progress he has made over the past number of years. The programme includes: physiotherapy, music therapy, exercises to develop visual motor/visual discrimination skills, sensory integration, conductive education, hydrotherapy and communication skills.
My Department has sanctioned a full-time instructor for the person in question and one other student who will comprise the initial enrolment at the centre. In addition, my Department has undertaken that, as was the case in St. Paul's, the instructor to student ratio will not exceed 6:1.
Both my Department's inspectorate and the authorities at the COPE Foundation are satisfied that, given this person's age, placement in the vocational training centre represents the most appropriate response to his needs at this stage. In these circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to allow a further extension to permit this young man to continue attending his former school.