I propose to take Questions Nos. 598 to 600, inclusive, together.
The estimated cost of the permanent employment of an in-school speech and language therapist at either primary school or post primary school level, on a full-time basis for one school year, would be an average salary cost of €55,000 per annum for a Speech and Language Therapist, or €70,000 per annum for a Senior Speech and language Therapist.
The estimated cost of employing one permanent in-school speech and language therapist at each of 3962 primary school, special schools, or post primary schools, on a full-time basis for one school year, would therefore be €218 Million per annum, if Speech and Language Therapist grades were to be employed, or €277 Million per annum if Senior Speech and Language Therapist grades were to be employed. Additional management and administrative costs would also be required.
It should also be noted, that an allocation model of one therapist post to each school would not take into account that schools may have very different enrolment numbers, or different profiled needs.
The Deputy will be aware that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services has been introduced for the 2018/19 school year and has been taking place in 75 schools and an additional 75 pre-school settings in the Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.
The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’.
It will provide for a clinical Speech and Language Therapy service delivery model of Specialist, Targeted and universal supports in line with best practice for pupils which will see them receiving supports along a continuum of provision depending on the extent or severity of needs of the child/pupil.
Although initially designed as a one year pilot, a Government decision of 12th February, 2019, in relation to the Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme, also agreed to the establishment of a pilot of a new School Inclusion Model for children with special educational and additional care needs involving up to 75 participating schools in the CHO 7 region over the course of the 2019/20 school year.
The demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services will continue, as part of the School Inclusion Model, over the course of the 2019/20 school year.
Decisions in relation to the extension of the service to other areas or Counties, or to extend the service nationally, will be taken following the evaluation of the existing informed pilot phase.