Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta as ucht a cheiste. A new model for allocating special education teachers was introduced for mainstream primary and post-primary schools from September 2017. It is designed to distribute special education teaching resources fairly to schools, taking into account the profiled needs of each school. The total number of special education teachers has increased by 38% since 2011, from 9,740 in 2011 to more than 13,500 now. The manner in which the updated profiles have been developed since September is set out in the Department of Education and Skills' circulars 007/2019 and 008/2019.
The school profiles take account of a number of components, including a baseline component provided to every mainstream school to support inclusion and early intervention, and which is based on school enrolment numbers. Also taken into account is the number of pupils with complex needs enrolled into the school, the learning support needs of pupils in the school, as evidenced by standardised test results, and the social context of the school including disadvantage and gender.
The National Council for Special Education, NCSE, working group report, ‘ A New Model for Allocating Additional Teaching Resources for Students with Special Educational Needs’, published in 2014, recommended the new profiled allocation model. The report noted that international research has shown that there is a significantly higher incidence of the overall male-to-female ratio in special education. The report cites a range of research evidence which indicates that boys predominate in most disability categories. This is particularly the case with behavioural needs. For this reason, the NCSE recommended that schools' profiles should take some account of a school's gender breakdown.
The percentage of the overall allocation for gender currently represents 4.35% of the profiled allocation for primary schools and 2.15% of the allocation for post primary schools. I am satisfied that the NCSE recommendation is valid. Should new research on differentials prevalent between boys and girls be published in future, this can be taken into account for the next review of the allocations.