Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ceisteanna (270, 271)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

270. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 181 of 30 April 2014, if he will confirm the date on which the actual Model A document that was presented to the High Court in the Ó Cuanacháin case was approved by his Department; if he will provide copies of documentation recording that this approval was made; and if he will confirm that the Model A document was circulated to all schools with ASD units at that time in view of the reference by the High Court judge to the framework of autism-specific education proposed by the State and apparently available in September 2006 at the two primary schools in his area and the model referred to in the proceedings as Model A. [21477/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

271. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 181 of 30 April 2014, in view of the High Court judge stating in his judgment in the Ó Cuanacháin case that the court was in effect being asked about a claim into the future to decide that Model A as proposed by the State was not an appropriate primary educational provision, the reason he is now stating that the model terminology was primarily internal when it is clear from what the judge stated that a decision was being made in the case before the High Court on whether or not Model A was appropriate for educating some children with autism. [21478/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 271 together. Any internal documents relating to the exhibition of evidence to the High Court constitute communication between my Department and its legal team, in the context of litigation and, as I have already advised, such communications are the subject of legal professional privilege. I previously advised the Deputy that the model documentation was primarily internal. In the case of each of the ASD classes currently operating throughout the country, they were opened with the direct support of the NCSE/SENO and/or the Inspectorate and/or the relevant NEPS Psychologist. Through the proviso of this direct support, each school received the advice and guidance necessary to assist them in the development of their units. It is not possible to say whether an individual school received documentation as part of the support and guidance provided by either NEPS or the Inspectorate when their ASD unit was opened. However I also advised the Deputy previously that the model concept in question was not disregarded, rather the scenarios described by the models were simplified. Elements of teaching frameworks, whole school training and the extended school year remain features of current provision. I previously advised the Deputy that the discontinuation of the model concept in favour of the mainstream, special class and special school provision did not materially alter the provision being made for children with autism. As previously outlined the NCSE is currently developing policy advice on the education of children with autism. I specifically requested the NCSE to consult as widely as possible in the preparation of the advice as it presents an opportunity for all interested parties to contribute to the final advice document which will assist in the development of policy in my Department for future years. The terms of reference for the policy advice are on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie and will address many of the issues raised recently by the Deputy. Finally it should be noted that the decision of the court in the case to which the Deputy has referred was to the effect that, the decision as to what model of education contained within it the ability to provide an appropriate education was a responsibility of the Minister under the constitution and that the Minister had made this decision having taken advice. This is clearly an ongoing responsibility and the changes which have taken place since this finding and which may take place as a consequence of the forthcoming NCSE policy advice are entirely consistent with the court's findings.