Funding for special education provision in 2018 will amount to some €1.75 billion, up 43% since 2011 and equivalent to 18.7% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training.
My Department's policy is to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs, including Autism (ASD), in mainstream school settings, unless such a placement would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, or the children with whom they will be educated.
The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools and it does not maintain details of waiting lists in schools.
Accordingly, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) advises parents, to seek to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice as early as possible. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school for the 2018/19 school year, they should update their local SENO (Special Educational Needs Organiser) to inform the planning process.
Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.
There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin. Of these, 17 are ASD early intervention classes, 139 are primary ASD classes and 41 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.
The NCSE is aware of emerging need 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.
While it is not always possible or practical that a special class placement would be available in a child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand nationally. From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional provision is required. In those circumstances, SENOs work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.
Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school placement they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.
My Department is aware that the establishment of special class provision in some schools and communities can be challenging.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 when commenced will assist in addressing this issue in areas where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs.
Section 8 of the Act, which commenced Monday 3rd December 2018, will provide the Minister with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the Board of Management and the Patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.