Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the National Council for Special Education to establish such a class. The Council through its national network of Special Needs Organisers (SENOs) is responsible for planning and coordinating education provision for children with special educational needs including granting approval for the establishment and resourcing of special classes.
Special classes for students with ASD are staffed with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1 at primary level and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have a minimum of two SNAs for every class of 6 children.
My Department issues current and capital funding directly to management authorities of schools.
When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. There are standard arrangements in place for the funding, design and delivery of these projects.
Other resources which are provided to schools to support children with Special Educational Needs including Autism include the following:
- Professional development for teachers.
- The National Educational Psychological Service
- Assistive technology.
- Access to the Special School transport scheme.
- Access to special equipment and furniture where required.
- Enhanced capitation grants at primary level
- Adapted school buildings/Additional accommodation
- ICT Grant for new classes
- Start Up grant for new classes
- Access to the extended school year scheme. (July Provision)
The NCSE has published guidelines for schools on setting up and organising Special Classes, which are available to download from www.ncse.ie . The guidelines include information on resources which may be provided to schools with special classes and links to information on the how funding is allocated.