Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (71)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

71. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which accommodation provision for students with autism is being made in respect of primary and second level schools and in accordance with the identified needs in respective geographic areas nationwide and in particular County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Currently, almost 20% of the total Education Vote or €1.9bn is invested in supporting children with special needs. 

Since 2011 investment in Special Education supports has increased by 50%, which is significantly above the 7% increase in total student numbers over the same period.

As a result the numbers of special education teachers, special needs assistants and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.

The majority of children with Autism attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports if required.

But some students may find it difficult to manage full-time placement in mainstream and so placement in a Special Class or Special School setting may be deemed appropriate where placement in mainstream class is not in the best interests of the child.

The NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide and has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents.

Nationally, 167 new special classes opened this school year, which means there are 1,618 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011.

Of these 1,353 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD.

Provision in our 124 special schools has also increased from 6,848 placements in 2011 to 7,872 this year.

In Kildare alone, there are 75 special classes and 4 Special Schools providing specialist support to children with more complex special educational needs.

The NCSE has planned a further expansion of special class and school places in Kildare for next year, including additional post primary special class provision in Maynooth Community College and Maynooth Post Primary School.

The local Special Education Needs Organisers in Kildare are available to assist and advise to parents of children with special educational needs and identify available school places.