Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Ceisteanna (345)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

345. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to open new ASD units in the Fingal area of County Dublin. [13406/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am aware of the demand for additional special class placements in the Fingal area of Dublin.

The National Council for Special Education, (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school in the area to make application to the NCSE to establish a class.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability. This work is currently underway in the area concerned.

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.

My Department is aware that the establishment of special provision in some schools and communities can be challenging.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 will assist in addressing this issue in areas where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs.

Section 8 of the Act provides the Minister with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the board of management and the patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.