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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 13 May 2020

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Ceisteanna (247)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

247. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4805/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

My Department’s policy focuses on ensuring that all students with special educational needs can have access to an education appropriate to meeting their needs and abilities.

Transitions at all stages and levels including starting school; the move from primary to post-primary school; moving between mainstream and special school settings and preparation for life after school can be a difficult time for all parents and students, including those with special educational needs.

My Department has committed itself to a range of actions aimed at supporting effective transition at all stages within the education system for students with special educational needs, including transition from primary to post primary

The range of supports and services which are made available to support students with special educational needs in schools include additional special educational teaching (S.E.T.) allocation in mainstream schools; Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support where a child has additional care needs; services of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS); enhanced levels of capitation in Special schools and Special Classes.

Other resources which are provided to schools to support children with special educational needs include the following:

- Assistive technology.

- Professional development for teachers.

- Access to the Special School transport scheme.

- Access to special equipment and furniture where required.

- Adapted school buildings.

- Home Tuition Scheme

- Access to the extended school year scheme. (July Provision)

The purpose of my Department’s Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for students enrolled in school, with a significant medical condition which has, and is likely to cause, major disruption to their attendance in school on a continuing basis.

Home tuition is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances.

My Department's July Provision Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with a severe/profound general learning disability and/or students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents.

In dealing with parents of children with special educational needs, the NCSE’s Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) will keep parents informed of what resourcing decisions are being made on their child’s behalf. Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs.The SENO is available to parents to discuss any issues they have about the present or future educational needs of their child and to offer support and expertise, including in relation to transition stages. SENO contact details can be acessed using the the NCSE website: www.ncse.ie

The NCSE Support Service provides advice and support to schools on the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs, providing in-school support, continuing professional development for teachers, and support to schools on the management of challenging behaviour. It enhances the multi-disciplinary capacity of the education system through providing access to expert knowledge in areas such as autism, speech and language, challenging behaviour and transition stages.

The NCSE published transitional guidelines for children with special needs. These wide-ranging and comprehensive guidelines provide advice and tips for parents, students and schools covering the transitions between all stages of education, including the transition from primary to post-primary - Guidelines on Moving from Primary to Post-Primary School. These Guidelines are available at www.ncse.ie

The NCSE Support Service has also produced a transition booklet which includes useful strategies for familiarising students with the post-primary routine; for settling in and getting to know classmates; or learning how the school works. This booklet is available on the SESS website at: http://www.sess.ie

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) has produced three very useful documents on the transfer from primary to post-primary which are available on their website at: http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/NEPS-Home-Page.html

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) developed a suite of materials to support the reporting and transfer of pupil information from primary to post primary schools, which includes a Special Educational Needs Summary Form is included to support the sharing of information for children with identified learning needs

Since the 2014/15 school year, schools are required to use the Education Passport materials and to forward them to the relevant post-primary school, following confirmation of enrolment, ideally by the end of June.

The document may include areas of special learning or any special education support a child needs.

The materials are presented under the umbrella title of “Education Passport” and are available at www.ncca.ie/transfer.

An official from Special Education Section of my Department will make contact directly with the parents of the children referred to by the Deputy, in relation to the issues detailed in the correspondence received.

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