I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 194 together.
I am aware of the need for increased specialist education provision in the Dublin area.
The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish 167 new special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year of which approximately 156 will be new ASD special classes, which includes new ASD classes in the areas referred to by the Deputy.
Ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them from September is a key priority for this Government.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.
From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved. This process is ongoing in the Dublin area and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing ASD classes where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.
When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.
Similarly, where special schools wish to expand provision, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to accommodate additional placements.
There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin.
The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019. Of these, 17 are ASD Early Intervention Classes, 139 are ASD Primary Classes and 41 are ASD Post Primary Classes. Each ASD Special class provides 6 placements.
Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.
The Government is spending nearly one euro in every five of the education budget on special education – about €1.9 billion in 2019. We have significantly increased the availability of special placements for children with special educational needs as well as bringing more and more children into mainstream education.