Ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them is a key priority for me and the Government.
I am deeply conscious of the stress and anxiety facing parents and their children where difficulties are encountered in securing a school place.
As Minister I have a power under Section 37A of the Education Act 1998 to direct a school to provide additional provision where all reasonable efforts have failed.
The legislation provides for a very transparent series of steps which can ultimately lead to the issuing of a legally binding direction to a board of management.
The initial step in the process is for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to inform the Minister that there is a shortage of places in a particular area.
The legislation was formally activated for the first time on April 18th following a report from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) outlining insufficient special school and special class capacity in Dublin 15.
The specific provision required was 8 additional primary ASD special classes providing 46 places and 40 special school places for students with complex needs.
Section 37A outlines a series of transparent steps which can ultimately lead to the issue by the Minister of a binding direction to schools to establish additional classes for children with special needs.
The first statutory notices under the legislation were served on 18 schools on 27 June and a second notice was served on 6 of these schools on 23 August. Copies of the notices and representations received from the schools are published on my Department’s website as provided for under the Act.
As new classes come on stream over coming weeks, the NCSE will keep in regular contact with the Parents of the children concerned and advise them of progress. Funding for the provision of home tuition is available to Parents as an interim measure until the children can enrol in school.