My Department provides for a range of supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs, in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is a separate statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for the provision of special educational needs supports to schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.
All primary and post primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources to cater for children with special educational needs. In September 2017 the Department introduced a new model to support pupils with special educational needs in our schools. All schools have now received revised allocations for September 2019. DES Circulars 0007/2019 for primary schools and 0008/2019 for post primary schools provide details of how the allocations are being updated for schools from September 2019, based on updated profile data.
The SET model differs significantly from the old Resource Allocation Model, in that Special Education Teacher allocation is now frontloaded into schools to support children with special educational needs. Rather than having to make individual application to the NCSE for additional supports schools can now respond to individual needs in a flexible way and pupils do not have to have a psychological assessment, or a diagnosis of a disability, in order to access Special Education Teaching. This means that those with highest level of need can access the highest level of support within the school in a timely manner.
It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of additional teaching support to best support the needs of identified pupils, in accordance with the Department's guidance. The teaching time afforded to each individual pupil is decided and managed by schools, taking into account each child's individual learning needs.
Guidelines for schools on the organisation, deployment and use of their special education teachers have been published on the Department’s website, at www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Special-Education/Guidelines-for-Primary-Schools-Supporting-Pupils-with-Special-Educational-Needs-in-Mainstream-Schools.pdf.
Schools are supported by the National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS) which delivers a consultative, tiered service delivery model to schools, in line with international best practice for the effective and efficient delivery of educational psychological services that best meet the needs of all pupils/students in schools. This service delivery model allows NEPS psychologists to support schools to provide an effective continuum of support to meet the needs of pupils/ students.
Should any students have assessed care needs, the school may apply for access to Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for those students.
The NCSE is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school. The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.
Resources provided to schools also include additional training for teachers through the Special Education Support Service (SESS).
The Support Service provides advice and support to schools on the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs, providing in-school support for teachers and continuing professional development for teachers with additional training needs. The Support Service continues to update current CPD courses and design new CPD courses in response to the needs of teachers.
Schools can apply for CPD courses directly to the NCSE on their on-line application process at www.sess.ie/ncsesupport.
The Department encourages parents and school authorities to engage locally regarding pupils' education. Should a parent be dissatisfied with the manner in which supports have been provided to support their child's education they should raise this matter directly with their school Principal or the Board of Management of the school. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's present or future special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.