Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ceisteanna (272)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

272. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 182 of 30 April 2014, if he will confirm that special needs assistants are currently not provided with training in ABA as would have been required under Model A; and if he will confirm that this does materially alter the educational provision being made for children with autism now that Model A has been discontinued in favour of mainstream, special classes and special school provision. [21479/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware my Department's position is that as each child with autism is unique, they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs and my Department's policy is to promote a child- centred approach to the education of children with special education including autism. The use of ABA as part of the range of interventions is particularly useful for addressing behavioural issues. As I previously outlined for the Deputy the brief of the Special Education Support service (SESS) is to enhance the quality of learning and teaching of students with special educational needs through the provision of CPD and support for teachers in mainstream schools, primary and post-primary special schools, and special classes. The SESS also provides whole school training at the request of schools and this can include training for Special Needs Assistants. 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. It is a matter for schools to determine the approach or mix of approaches which they will use in each individual case. The approach towards each child's education would be based on the individual educational needs of the child and would have regard to the child's individual education plan and supporting professional reports, etc. and would require the interaction of all school personnel involved in the provision of education to the child. Funding is also made available through the SESS support scheme enabling teachers to identify their own CPD needs and attend appropriate and relevant courses not provided directly by the SESS. The criteria by which SNA support is allocated to pupils are set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014. The Circular explains that where pupils have particular care needs, schools should ensure that SNAs who are recruited to work with such children are equipped with the skills necessary to support the particular needs of these pupils. 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.