My Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools, which have enrolled students with special educational needs, including those with Autism in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education.
Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.
My Department therefore provides for a continuum of provision which includes mainstream school placements with additional supports, or for pupils who require more specialist interventions, special school and special class placements.
This network includes 130 ASD early intervention classes, 635 primary ASD classes and 277 post-primary ASD classes in mainstream schools and 125 Special schools of which 20 are ASD special schools.
Students with ASD should be included in mainstream schools unless this is not in their best interests or the interests of those with whom they are to be educated. Some students with ASD with more complex special educational needs may be supported in a special class in a mainstream school.
Others may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school.
This decision is based a recommendation contained within a professional assessment in consultation with the NCSE.
The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs.
The NCSE is aware of emerging need in Dublin from year to year, and where special provision, including special class provision, is required, it is planned and established to meet that need. This process is ongoing.
To this end, the NCSE has contacted the school in question in relation to opening an ASD special class. The final decision to open a special class rests with the school’s Board of Management and I understand that to date the school has not applied to the NCSE to do so.
In the case of existing schools, where a school is not in a position to accommodate a special class within its existing accommodation, it is open to the school to submit an application to the Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class or to construct additional accommodation.
My Department continues to work with the NCSE to ensure that any required additional special class placements will be available for the forthcoming school years.