Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Ceisteanna (208)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

208. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on sealing the records of the Ryan Commission for 75 years; if he or his officials have met with survivors of industrial schools that are of the view this would be tantamount to the legally sanctioned silencing of victims of institutionalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53072/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department and I have received correspondence in relation to the Retention of Records Bill from a number of former residents and it is clear that there are conflicting views as to how to procced in regard to the records. I am aware that some former residents have called for the current legislation to be implemented, i.e., that the bulk of the records would be disposed of, while other have called for the immediate release of the records.  Other former residents have indicated their support for the proposals contained in the Bill, i.e., the retention of the records subject to access being completely withheld for the proposed 75 year minimum period.  

The Retention of Records Bill which I published earlier this year and which is currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas provides for the retention of the records of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee.

The Deputy will be aware, having been a member of Government when the initial decisions were made to proceed with legislation to provide for the retention of these records, that under the legislation establishing these bodies, the bulk of their records would, on their dissolution, fall to be disposed of, by way of destruction. 

Under the current legislation,  information provided to the Commission and the Redress bodies must be kept confidential and, with limited exceptions, disclosure of such information would be a punishable offence. Given that all individuals and parties participated in the work of the bodies on the basis of confidentiality and that former residents in particular provided information of a deeply personal and private nature to the bodies, the early release of the records would be anathema for some former residents and for their families.  

The retention and eventual release of the records, therefore, required fresh legislation.  It is necessary that the legislation balances the public interest in the retention of these records with the right to privacy and related rights of all of those who engaged with the bodies. By ensuring that the records are retained and withheld from public inspection for a period of at least 75 years, the Bill balances these rights and minimises the risk of legal challenge to their retention and that the approach set down in the Bill is the appropriate way to proceed.

However, the Government has decided to provide for an interim review of the operation of the legislation, to take place 25 years after the legislation is commenced. I will be bringing forward the necessary provision at Committee Stage to achieve this.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (209)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

209. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a student grant application to SUSI by a person (details supplied); the reason the application was refused; if they can appeal same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53084/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the grant awarding authority has advised my officials that they have no record of an application from the student in question for the 2019/20 academic year.

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (210)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

210. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children participating in a pilot programme specialised therapists into schools and preschools in 2018 and to date in 2019. [53097/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services was introduced for the 2018/19 school year and has been continuing as part of a wider pilot of a new School Inclusion Model for children with special educational and additional care needs over the course of the 2019/20 school year.

The demonstration project has been developed by a Working Group which includes representatives from the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs, Health, and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. This innovative pilot will complement existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services. 

The project is taking place in Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.

This region has been selected to ensure that the pre-school and in-school therapy model can be tested in both urban and rural locations and with a suitable mix of various types of schools and pre-schools.  

75 schools, including a representative sample of primary, post primary, and special schools are taking part in the project.

75 Pre-school settings associated with primary schools participating in the project are being included in order to provide for therapy interventions to be made at the earliest possible time and to create linkages between pre-school and primary school provision. 

In total, 150 settings are participating in the demonstration project. 

The demonstration project has used a tiered model of providing supports for schools and pre-schools which is based on a universal whole school and classroom model, whereby Speech and Language Therapists provide whole school support for students ‘oral language and communications skills and also provide training for teachers and parents in speech language and communication needs.

In pre-schools Speech and Language Therapists, support the development of a language-rich environment at pre-school and in the home. 

Occupational Therapists assist the development of the concept of ‘sensory friendly environments’ to support all students engagement within the learning environment - whole school support for self-regulation skills, social engagement and motor skills to promote meaningful participation of all students.

As such, it is expected that all of the children who are attending the 75 schools, and 75 pre-schools, which have been participating in the demonstration project will have been participating in the project in some form. There are approximately 23,500 pupils attending the 75 project schools and some additional 3000 children attending the 75 pre-school settings.

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (211, 212)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

211. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children participating in a pilot new school inclusion model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53098/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

212. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children waiting to participate in a pilot new school inclusion model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53099/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 211 and 212 together.

On 27th March I announced the trialling of the School Inclusion Model, a new model of support for students with special educational and additional care needs, which is being piloted in 75 schools in the Kildare/Wicklow/South Dublin region. The pilot commenced at the start of the 2019/20 school year.

The School Inclusion Model aims to build schools’ capacity and to provide the right supports at the right time for students with additional needs.

All of the students who are attending the 75 schools, which are participating in the SIM pilot, will have been participating in the pilot in some form. There are therefore not students waiting to participate. There are approximately 23,500 students attending the 75 pilot schools.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (213)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

213. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the delivery of a permanent location for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

This building project referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.  

The major building project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2b – Detailed Design, which includes securing Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate and the preparation of tender documents.

The Design Team has submitted the Stage 2b Report to the Department for review. The next steps for this project will be approval of the Stage 2b Report, completion of a tender process for an enabling works project and progression to Stage 3 – tender stage for the main contract. 

In that context, the Department has recently reverted to the Design Team with comments on the tender package for the enabling works contract. Once these comments have been taken on board, this element of the project can proceed.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (214)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

214. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a student (details supplied) in County Kerry will be provided assisted technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the Assistive Technology scheme, as set out in my Department’s Circular 0010/2013, funding is provided to schools towards the cost of computers and specialist equipment, which are required for educational purposes. Equipment is provided under this scheme for children with more complex disabilities who, in order to access the school curriculum, require essential specialist equipment which they do not already have, or which cannot be provided for them through the school’s existing IT provision.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. SENOs also make recommendations to my Department where assistive technology/specialised equipment is required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in making recommendations for support.

In order to qualify for equipment under the assistive technology scheme, a student must have been diagnosed with a physical or communicative disability and must also have a recommendation in a professional assessment that the equipment is essential in order to allow the student to access the curriculum. It must also be clear that the existing I.T. equipment in the school is insufficient to meet the child's needs.

Schools make applications directly to the SENO, providing details of the student’s special educational needs or disability, including details of the approach taken by the school in making relevant interventions.

SENOs will review the application, and professional reports provided in support of same, in order to establish whether the criteria of the scheme have been met. They will then make a recommendation to my Department as to whether or not assistive technology is required; and based on this recommendation, my Department will decide on the level of grant, if any, to be provided.

Although equipment is sanctioned under the Assistive Technology scheme for use by particular students, it is the property of the school, and the school’s management authority is responsible for maintenance, repair, and insurance of the equipment. 

 I can confirm that an application for assistive technology for the pupil named by the deputy was received by my Department and funding was not sanctioned to the school, on the basis that the SENO did not recommend that the application met the criteria for provision of equipment.  

It is open to the school to appeal this decision. The appeals process is outlined on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Grants-and-Additional-Support/Assistive-Technology-Grant/

Departmental Functions

Ceisteanna (215)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

215. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress on the Women’s Caucus period poverty motion passed by Dáil Éireann recently. [53142/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A sub-committee, under the National Strategy for Women and Girls (NWSG) Committee, on period poverty has been established and is chaired by a Department of Health official.  My Department is participating on the sub-committee.

The  work of the sub-committee involves the examination of available evidence to establish the prevalence of period poverty in Ireland, the populations at risk of experiencing such poverty and the identification of measures to address period poverty.  

Three meetings of the sub-committee have taken place since September, each of which was attended by my Department.  I understand the sub-committee currently plans to complete its work by Quarter 2, 2020 and to report to the NSWG Committee, chaired by Minister of State Stanton, with its findings and recommendations.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (216)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

216. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a permanent extension by a school (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the school must turn away students in view of the fact it has no certainly regarding its future enrolment capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53146/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is in receipt of an application, for capital funding, for the provision of additional school accommodation from the school referred to by the Deputy.  The assessment process is nearing completion and a decision will issue to the school authority shortly.

Institutes of Technology

Ceisteanna (217)

Malcolm Byrne

Ceist:

217. Deputy Malcolm Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in the submission of the application from the institutes of technology in counties Carlow and Waterford for designation as a technological university; and the measures he is taking to assist in such a designation. [53157/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The establishment of technological universities (TUs), including a TU in the South East, is an important part of the Government's higher education policy.

Under the statutory framework detailed in the Technological Universities Act 2018, it is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant Institutes of Technology participating in a TU development consortium to progress their plans to seek TU designation.

In this context, Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Carlow, which form the Technological University for South East Ireland (TUSEI) consortium, continue to work towards submission of an application for TU designation under the 2018 Act.

In addition to the enactment of the 2018 Act, Government have put in place a number of very important supports enabling the establishment of TUs.

The TU Research Network (TURN) established by my Department completed a report which was launched last month by the Minister of State with responsiblity for Higher Education entitled ‘Technological Universities: Connectedness & Collaboration enabled by Connectivity’ and which details the case and requirements for a state change in higher education reform whereby TUs will assist in the delivery of national strategic objectives for regional socio-economic development, higher education access, research and skills progression.

The report makes recommendations for the strategic development of TUs in a structured system-wide approach and identifies the need for investment in integrated multi-campus digital infrastructure, research capacity building and realignment of the policy framework and funding for TUs.

In response Government announced in Budget 2020 the provision of €90 million over the next three years under a new TU Transformation Fund to support consortia such as TUSEI to achieve TU designation and the further advancement of established TUs. This is additional to the €31 million in Exchequer funding invested in TU development to date, of which the TUSEI project has received €3.72 million.

In light of these measures which underpin the establishment of TUs, it is essential that all TU development consortia, including TUSEI, accelerate and intensify their work to achieve designation and in so doing demonstrate a strongly integrated and cohesive approach to the delivery of TUs for their regions.

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (218, 219)

Malcolm Byrne

Ceist:

218. Deputy Malcolm Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the shortage of second-level school places in Gorey, County Wexford at present and over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53158/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Malcolm Byrne

Ceist:

219. Deputy Malcolm Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the shortage of second-level school places in Wexford town at present and over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53159/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 219 together.

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

The Wexford school planning area which is currently served by five post-primary schools. Loreto College, Wexford which formed part of the Schools Bundle 5 PPP project, was completed in August 2018 and provides for 900 post-primary places. My Department also recently approved a grant to a post-primary school in Wexford town to provide an additional mainstream classroom and science lab and this project has been devolved to the school for delivery.

The Gorey school planning area is currently served by two post-primary schools, including a 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2011 with some 820 pupils enrolled in the current school year.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date information on significant new residential development in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

Where data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four year period 2019 to 2022. This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Wexford or Gorey school planning areas, the requirement for new schools will be kept under review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under Project Ireland 2040. I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under Project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.

The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. Details of schools listed on this programme can be found on my Department's website www.education.ie and this information is also updated regularly.

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (220)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

220. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of his announcement in relation to a school (details supplied) during his visit to the school on 21 November 2019; and if his announcement will result in additional places being available beyond the planned intake of 180 in September 2020. [53162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, in relation to the school to which he refers, my Department has approved funding for a permanent extension consisting of 3 general classrooms, 3 SET rooms/offices, a science laboratory and preparation area, an art room, and toilets.  This funding is being provided under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme 2019.

I can also inform the Deputy that, pending the delivery of this permanent extension, my Department has also approved interim temporary accommodation consisting of 3 mainstream classrooms with toilets along with the conversion of an existing space to create a science laboratory. This accommodation will be in place for September 2020.

The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and, in particular, will have regard to the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (221)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

221. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the lease in respect of a school (details supplied); if he will consider awarding ownership of the lease to an organisation in the event the lease has expired and the fact that the school was closed in the early 1970s which would allow the organisation to apply for funding through the sports capital grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53174/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The property referred to by the Deputy is not in my ownership. In common with other buildings of its kind, there is a charging lease in place on the property, in this case dated 1913 for 890 years to protect the state's investment in the property.

In circumstances where a property has ceased to be used as a school, and a request is received from the property owner to release the State's interest secured under a charging lease, such requests are considered in the context of the specific circumstances which pertain to the individual property.

I can confirm that my Department has not received a request from the property owners to release my interest in this property. 

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (222)

John Lahart

Ceist:

222. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the patronage process for a post-primary school in Citywest, Dublin 24; when the outcome will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53179/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four years from 2019 to 2022, including a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to serve the Tallaght & Newcastle_Rathcoole (Citywest/Saggart) school planning areas as a regional solution to be established in 2020.

The successful patrons were announced today on my Department's website and the assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations are available on my Department's website.

Schools Property

Ceisteanna (223)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

223. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the purchase of a school (details supplied) will be finalised as agreed with the owner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53186/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In line with the requirements of recent revisions to the Public Spending Code, my Department is undertaking a re-appraisal of the proposed acquisition of the property referred to by the Deputy.

In this regard, my Department is not in a position to execute contracts for the proposed acquisition at this time.  The property-owner has been informed of the position and further correspondence on this matter will issue to him upon completion of the re-appraisal process.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (224, 225, 226, 228, 229)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

224. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to open ASD units using the recent changes in legislation that no longer require consent from a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53190/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

225. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on schools refusing to educate children with complex needs through ASD units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

226. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the needs of all children are planned for or just the neurotypical population when considering changing demographics in growing areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53192/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

228. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether schools should be engaging with parents to inform them of their special educational needs policies and facilities for children with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

229. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the additional stress to both pupils with special needs and their parents when no school places are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 to 226, inclusive, 228 and 229 together.

The provision of education for children with special needs, including those with Autism, is an ongoing priority for Government.

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.

Special classes enable students with more complex special educational needs who are unable to access the curriculum in a mainstream class, even with support, for most or all of their school day.

Special school placements are provided for other students with ASD and very complex special needs who wouldn’t manage in a mainstream school even for part of the week.

The responsibility to ensure that all children with Special education needs can get a school placement is a shared responsibility involving the NCSE, schools management and Patrons, the education partners and my Department. However in the first instance this responsibility rests with individual schools boards of management.

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.

The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

It is open to any school including special schools to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, there is a range of supports including capital funding available to the school. My Department works closely with the NCSE in this regard.

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.

The NCSE has a team of local Special Education Needs Organisers who are available to provide parents with information about the supports that can be provided for children with special educational needs in schools and can also advise parents of the availability of special class placements in schools.

The NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and school places nationally to meet identified need for next year. This process is ongoing.

The extent of new special class and school places being established in recent years shows the willingness of schools to provide special classes and school places and normally this is the case.

However there are some parts of the country where the Council has faced challenges in getting schools and their Patrons to voluntarily agree to provide special class or school places.

I know that this can cause much anguish for parents and families involved.

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.

I would prefer to see schools volunteer to provide more places rather than places being secured on the back of an order or a direction from me. It is the right thing for the children in a community.

The legislation was activated on the 29th October, 2019 following a report by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which identified a shortage of special school and special class places right across south Dublin.

The NCSE has identified 82 children needing special education school places for this or next year in south Dublin.

This is the second time the power under section 37A of the Education Act 1998 (as inserted by section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018) has been used.

The law contains a procedure through which the NCSE can test the capacity of schools in an area to provide more special education places and through which ultimately a Ministerial direction can be made requiring a school to make additional special education places available.

The necessary steps in the Admissions Act process, will continue to be expedited to ensure that children with special needs are provided with access to a suitable education.

The legislation was used for the first time back in April in respect of the Dublin 15 area.

Significant progress was made in a relatively short period with the establishment of Danu Special School as well as six schools offering to open special classes. The new places will help these families and ensure that the children concerned have access to education.

The experience of Dublin 15 shows that real and practical challenges can be addressed by working together to provide additional special class and special school places.

I published the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill in September the Seanad Report Stage on the Bill is scheduled for this week. The aim of the legislation is to improve how schools engage with students and their parents.

Under the legislation, schools will be required to prepare and implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines. The national charter guidelines will be published by the Minister after consultation with the education partners, including those bodies representing students and parents.

The legislation provides that the charter guidelines will set out the requirements on schools in relation to the content of charters, including the procedures for consulting with students and their parents on the review and development of school plans and policies.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (227)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

227. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if ASD units are automatically considered when schools require extensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In the case of all new schools, as well as replacement school buildings, it is general practice to include a Special Education Needs Base (SEN Base) in the accommodation brief, unless local circumstances indicate that it will not be required.  Typically, a two classroom SEN Base is provided in new primary schools and a two or four classroom SEN Base is provided in new post primary schools. 

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).  This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE takes account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned.  The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.  Similarly, where special schools wish to expand provision, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to accommodate additional placements.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.