I propose to take Questions Nos. 338 and 339 together.
I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools were published on 7th March 2017.
These Circulars set out the details of the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The revised allocation process replaces the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocation process which provided additional resource teaching supports to schools to support pupils assessed as having Low Incidence disabilities.
The new Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.
Allocations based on the school profiles were issued to all schools on 7th March. Details of the special education teaching allocations have also been published on the NCSE website.
The aim of this new model is to deliver better outcomes for children with special educational needs. Substantial research, analysis, consultation with service users and stakeholders, and piloting have gone in to the development of this model and all of the evidence points to the fact that this new system will deliver better outcomes for children.
No school will lose supports as a result of the implementation of the new model. In addition, no school will receive an allocation, for the support of pupils with complex needs, less than the allocation they received to support such pupils during the 2016/17 school year. No allocation made for such pupils by the NCSE will be removed from schools as long as that pupil remains in the school.
An additional 900 teaching posts have been provided to support the introduction of this new allocation model. The provision of an additional 900 teaching posts is a very significant investment in the provision of additional teaching support for pupils with special educational needs in our schools. This is additional to an increase of 41% in the number of resource teachers allocated to schools annually by the NCSE since 2011.
The new funding will ensure that all schools receive a sufficient allocation of special education needs resources to provide additional teaching support to all pupils, including pupils who have yet to enrol in their school, who require such support.
Under the new allocation model, schools will be provided with a total allocation which includes a baseline allocation for the school and an allocation based on the school’s profile.
The provision of a profiled allocation will give a fairer allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the actual level of need in each school.
Guidelines for schools on the organisation, deployment and use of their special education teachers to address the need of pupils with special educational needs are also being prepared and will be published shortly.
The Guidelines will support schools to reflect on how they can review and manage their timetabling practices to ensure the timetable is sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of all pupils in their school who have special needs.
The Guidelines encourage schools to ensure they deploy their resources appropriately to meet the needs of all of the children in their school who require additional teaching support, including pupils with emerging needs, or new entrants.
It is expected that the majority of schools will be able to manage their resources to provide additional teaching support to all children who need such support in their schools, in accordance with the guidelines.
A small number of schools may require access to NCSE Support Service in cases where they consider that the management and deployment of the allocation cannot meet the needs of the students in their school. In such cases the school should set out to the NCSE the manner in which it has deployed its allocation and the difficulties the school has encountered.
The supports available through the NCSE Support Service, where appropriate, will enable schools to build professional capacity in the school and support schools in responding to exceptional circumstances. This support need not always be in the form of additional teaching support but may involve the promotion of effective teaching strategies, assisting teachers in developing a classroom environment to promote positive behaviour and/or developing capacity to respond to challenging behaviour
Support is provided in the current 2016/17 school year through NCSE Special Educational Needs Organisers, the National Behavioural Support Service, the Special Educational Support Service, and the Visiting Teachers for Pupils with Visual or Hearing Impairment.
Further information will be made available to schools shortly in relation to the manner in which schools can access supports through the NCSE Support Service for the 2017/18 school year, which is the date from which the new school allocations under the new model becomes effective from.