Friday, 6 September 2019

Ceisteanna (439)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

439. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase resources for children with additional needs in mainstream schools who have multiple diagnoses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36209/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that from September 2017, a new model for allocating special education teachers to mainstream schools was introduced. This model allocates special education teachers to schools based on the profiled needs of schools, as opposed to the assessed needs of individual children. 

1,000 additional special education teachers have been provided for schools since 2017, while the total number of special education teachers has increased by 37% since 2011, from 9,740 in 2011, to over 13,450 at present.

The revised allocation process replaced the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocation process which provided additional resource teaching supports to schools, to support pupils assessed as having Low Incidence disabilities.

The previous system which provided allocations of resource teaching support for individual pupils in particular disability categories, guided by the Report of the Special Education Review Committee (SERC Report), therefore no longer applies. 

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.

This allocation allows schools to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who require such support in their schools and for schools to deploy resources based on each pupil’s individual learning needs.

It gives greater flexibility to schools as to how they can deploy their resources, to take account of the actual learning needs pupils have, as opposed to being guided by a particular diagnosis of disability, and schools are guided as to how they should make such allocation decisions.

The school will take account of learning needs of children as evidenced by performance in schools but also supported where relevant by information provided regarding the nature of a condition that a pupil may have, including where a pupil may have multiple diagnoses.

The provision of support for small groups of pupils, or use of in class support teaching for a number of pupils, as opposed to primarily one to one teaching, also means that qualifying pupils will often be able to receive more support than they otherwise would have done.

The Department of Education and Skills has published guidelines for schools as to how they should utilise and deploy their resources under the new allocation model. These guidelines are available at:

https://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Special-Education/Guidelines-for-Primary-Schools-Supporting-Pupils-with-Special-Educational-Needs-in-Mainstream-Schools.pdf and

https://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Special-Education/Guidelines-for-Post-Primary-Schools-Supporting-Students-with-Special-Educational-Needs-in-Mainstream-Schools.pdf

The guidelines support schools in how they identify pupils for additional teaching support and decide how much support to provide for pupils who need it. 

Where pupils who have multiple diagnoses of special educational needs have additional care needs, Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support may also be provided to schools to support such pupils, in accordance with the criteria set out in my Departments Circular 30/2014.

The total number of SNA posts available for allocation to schools by the end of this year is 15,950 SNAs, which represents an increase of 50% on the total number of SNAs available for allocation in 2011, which was 10,575.  

Additional supports such as Assistive Technology Support or Special School Transport arrangements may also be provided, where required.