Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ceisteanna (231)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

231. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children who are seeking but cannot secure a place within an ASD unit by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37527/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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.

New classes which will be coming on stream over coming weeks are the result of very intense engagement between the Department, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Patron bodies and schools.

This follows the establishing of a Special School in Dublin 15, under the patronage of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB.

The NCSE has also indicated that some Parents in South Dublin and Cork are experiencing difficulty securing school places for their children.

The NCSE is actively engaging at local level with schools, Patron Bodies and the families concerned to resolve the issues involved as soon as possible.

If, following completion of that work, the NCSE establishes that there is a shortage of places in either area it can inform me thereby activating the provisions contained in section 37A of the Education Act 1998.