The report of the task force on dyslexia contains more than 60 individual recommendations ranging across a wide variety of issues from identification and assessment, to models of service delivery, specialist training for service providers, to issues relating to structural reforms. Since the task force reported, a number of initiatives have been taken in the area of dyslexia. These include the introduction of the first ever on-line training course for teachers catering for pupils with dyslexia; the appointment of ten new learning support trainers to the primary curriculum support programme specifically to provide in-depth support for the implementation of learning support guidelines for children with dyslexia; and a reduction from 11:1 to 9:1 in the pupil teacher ratio applicable to special classes catering for children with dyslexia.
In addition to the above measures, a key focus of my Department has been on advancing the fundamental structural and legislative measures, which are necessary to underpin the development and delivery of services for persons with special needs, including children with dyslexia. A key development on the structural front has been the Government's decision to approve the establishment of the National Council for Special Education. The National Council, which will have a local area presence, will play a key role in the development and delivery of services for persons with special needs, including children with dyslexia. It will have a research and advisory role and will establish expert groups to consider specific areas of special needs provision. It will also establish a consultative forum to facilitate inputs from the education partners and other interested parties. Arrangements for the establishment of the council are now well advanced. A chief executive has been appointed, the Oireachtas has approved an order establishing the council and the recruitment of council staff is in hand.
I have brought forward legislation, based on the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003, aimed at establishing the rights and entitlements of persons with special needs, including dyslexia, to an appropriate education service and providing the necessary framework for effective service delivery. My objective is to secure the passage of this legislation through the Oireachtas as quickly as possible.