Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (144, 145)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

144. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the allocation of special education teaching support for a school (details supplied) will be reassessed on the grounds of exceptional circumstances in order to provide the staff with the best possible platform to adequately cater for a number of students; the reason the allocation of special education teaching support hours for the school has not been increased but remain the same despite an increase in the number of children who require such specialised support since the introduction of the new allocation of hours for pupils with additional needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11809/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

145. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that the current system for seeking an appeal or review of special education teaching support hours is offering schools, principals and boards of management an adequate forum from which they can communicate concerns, seek meaningful reviews or appeals and engage with his Department on behalf of students with complex needs who may require additional supports; if he is further satisfied that the system affords an appropriate level of credence to the principals who care for vulnerable children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11810/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 145 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools set out details of a new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.

DES Circulars 0007/2019 for primary schools and 0008/2019 for post primary schools also provide details of how the allocations are being updated for schools from September 2019, based on updated profile data.

All schools have now received revised allocations for September 2019.

As the re profiling occurred, some schools have gained additional allocations, where the profile indicator data indicates these schools have additional needs. Some schools received slightly reduced allocations, where the data indicates less need, and some schools maintained their existing allocations.

The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.

Under the allocation model, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support based on their school profile.

The provision of a profiled allocation is designed to give a fair allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the level of need in each school.

Schools are front loaded with resources, based on each school’s profile. The allocations to schools include provision to support all pupils in the schools, including where a child receives a diagnosis after the allocation is received by a school, or where there are newly enrolling pupils to the school.

Both my Department and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are committed to ensuring that all schools are treated equally and fairly in the manner in which their school profiles have been calculated.

Accordingly, a number of review processes have been put in place to support schools and to offer them a mechanism to have their special education teaching support hours reviewed.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will publish details of an appeal process for the 2019 allocation process for schools in the coming days.

Schools will be advised that this appeal will consider circumstances where schools considered that their school profile was calculated incorrectly, using the data set out in DES Circulars 007 and 008 2019. An appeal can be submitted for a review of the information used and of the calculation of the allocation.

A second process will be put in place to address circumstances where the school profile significantly changed following the allocation process e.g. a developing school where the net enrolment numbers significantly increased.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in the Primary and Post Primary School Staffing Schedule for the 2019/20 school year.

Schools who qualify for additional mainstream developing school posts in accordance with these criteria will also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

Finally, it is acknowledged that there are some circumstances, which may arise in schools, which fall outside the appeals process, or allocations for developing school status.

These relate to exceptional or emergency circumstances which could not have been anticipated e.g. where the school profile changes very significantly, or where other exceptional circumstances have arisen in a school and which may require a review of schools capacity to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who need it in the school, or of their utilisation of their allocations.

Once the appeal process has concluded, a further process will be available where schools can seek a review of their allocations including the utilisation of their allocations, in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.

I am satisfied that there are therefore in place a number of processes which can review the special education teacher allocation for schools where necessary, including for the school referred to by the Deputy in his question.

This Government is investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.8bn being spent annually, about €1 in every 5 of the education budget.

There are currently over 13,400 special education teachers in schools, an increase of 37% since 2011.

There are now more special education teachers in schools now than we have ever had previously.

The very significant levels of additional provision we have made in recent years to provide additional Special Education Teachers means that all schools are resourced to provide for the special educational needs of children in their schools.