Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Ceisteanna (114, 118)

Eric J. Byrne

Ceist:

114. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify a situation regarding special needs assistants (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32433/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

118. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding special needs assistants (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32501/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 118 together. I wish to advise the Deputy that the level of resources being devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been maintained at €1.3 billion this year. This includes provision for 10,575 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). These resources have been protected despite the ongoing severe financial position and a requirement to make expenditure savings across a range of areas. There has been no reduction to the overall number of SNA posts being provided for schools for the coming school year. This provision remains at 10,575 posts, which will ensure that all children who qualify for access to SNA support for the coming school year will receive access to such support. The demand for SNAs for the 2013/2104 school year currently stands at over 10,490 leaving over 80 posts available for late demand. Some additional posts are also likely to be freed up during the year due to children not enrolling to schools or diminishing care needs. The NCSE will allocate the remaining SNAs to schools during the year, as required, based on the care needs of qualifying children. In relation to the July Provision scheme I wish to clarify that the allocation of home based provision to siblings for July Provision is reflective of the school grouping principle. This is where one teacher is allocated to a class of six pupils at the appropriate educational level, primary or post primary. Accordingly it is considered appropriate, as in a school situation, that a tutor can provide tuition at the appropriate educational level to more than one sibling at that level simultaneously in the home. The school grouping principle does not purport to replicate or mirror all aspects of school based provision. The age or ability of siblings is reflected in their education level as determined by education and health professionals. In general where a child is receiving their education in a class setting with other children of mixed age and ability, this should carry through to their July Provision. However in recognition of the differing needs of some siblings, separate allocations can considered on a case by case basis. Applications in this regard will require supporting documentation including professional reports from a psychologist or a letter from the principal of the school detailing the existing arrangements currently in place for the respective children and providing reasons why they cannot be tutored together in the home.