I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 221 together.
Schools have a legal duty to provide an appropriate education to all students, including young people with special educational needs, and obviously they need to plan to ensure this happens.
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.
A new model for allocating special education teachers to schools was introduced in 2017. Under this model, 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.
My Department's July Provision Grant Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays. The scheme does not make provision for children with other categories of Special Education Needs.
The National Council for Special Education’s Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders was published in July 2016.
The NCSE review found that in general parents value July provision because it provides day-time respite for families and a structured day for students.
However, the NCSE review found a number of problems with the scheme as currently organised.
These include concerns that the scheme may be inequitable because it is not provided to all students with complex special educational needs.
The Council recommended that the relevant Government Departments consider how an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs.
The proposed scheme would provide a structured, safe, social environment for all students with complex special educational needs, which might include some children with Down syndrome.
The Department of Education and Skills has convened an Implementation Group with representatives of the NCSE, NEPS and the Inspectorate to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.
There are no plans to change the July provision scheme coverage until this work is complete.