I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department received a letter from the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) dated 26th November, 2018, regarding implementation of Individual Education Planning in schools.
My Department also received correspondence from the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) dated 18th December, 2018, enclosing a copy of a communication which the ASTI had issued to schools in relation to provision for Individual Education Planning.
Officials from my Department wrote to both the TUI and the ASTI regarding this matter on 20th December, 2018.
In doing so, my Department noted the very significant increases in the number of special education teachers provided to schools since 2011.
More than €1.75 billion, almost 19% of the overall spend in the sector, is dedicated to special education.
The additional provision which has been made in recent years includes an increase of 37% in the number of special education teachers allocated to schools, from 9,9740 in 2011, to over 13,300 at present.
With the increase in the allocation of special education teaching in schools, my Department has also ensured there is provision for planning and co-ordination.
DES Circular 0014/2017 notes that provision is made within the total allocation of special education teachers to schools for planning and co-ordination activities to ensure the most effective use of the special educational needs hours provided to schools, for children with special educational needs.
In writing to the associations, my Department also noted that schools have a legal duty to provide an appropriate education to all students, including young people with special educational needs, and need to plan to ensure this happens.
Guidelines for schools on educational planning and monitoring of outcomes through the Student Support File, are contained in the Guidelines for Primary and Post primary Schools: Supporting Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools.
Planning is a normal part of a teacher’s work and planning tools, like the student support file, have been created as a resource to help schools provide for their students.
It is the view of the Department that planning for the provision of education in schools should include planning for the provision of additional teaching support for pupils in schools, for which coordination and planning time is acknowledged in the allocation.
This would represent a continuation of the good practice that is occurring in the majority of schools.