The Government is committed to helping all children, including children with special educational needs to fulfil their potential. We have increased the budget in the special needs area by 43% since 2011 and doubled the number of special classes.
As the Deputy will be aware the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 was published in July 2016. The Bill which passed Committee Stage on 28th June 2017 is an important piece of legislation which strives to create a new more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country.
The Bill provides that where a school has places available it must admit all applicants. The Bill also provides for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to designate a school for a child who has no school place for reasons related to the child’s special educational needs.
The Deputy may be aware that I yesterday published an amendment to the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 which will give the Minister the power to compel a school to open a special class or classes where the NCSE has identified a need for such provision within an area.
The Bill passed Committee Stage on 28th June 2017 and will shortly proceed to Report Stage.