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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 December 2020

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Ceisteanna (429)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

429. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education her plans to address the lack of ASD units in Limerick schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40231/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department's policy is to provide for the inclusive education of autistic students in mainstream schools to the greatest extent possible.

Autism is a spectrum condition, so some autistic students require relatively little support in school and are largely independent in their learning, while others require significant levels of support.

There is therefore not one preferred educational approach for autistic students, rather there is a range of provision, sometimes described as a continuum, which takes into account the assessed educational needs of individual students.

All students with special educational needs are served by this continuum of provision ranging from full-time enrolment in classes in mainstream schools with or without additional supports, to a special class in a mainstream school to full-time enrolment in special schools.

This continuum is supported by significant investment by Government, €2bn or 20% of the total education spend. This funds the provision of additional teachers, special needs assistants and other supports required to enable children with special needs to access education.

The National Council for Special Education is responsible for planning and coordinating local education provision and school placements for children with special needs for the whole country.

NCSE has advised that there are currently 64 classes supporting autistic students operating in mainstream schools in Limerick. These classes provide for up to 360 specialist places in mainstream schools based in a total of 41 Primary Schools and 23 Post Primary schools. 13 of these classes are new for the 2020/2021 school year. In addition, 188 autistic students are supported within 5 Special Schools in Limerick.

Taking a range of demographic factors into consideration, it is anticipated that additional places may be required in Limerick to cater for likely future demand in the city and county. The NCSE, through its network of local SENOs, will continue to engage with the local schools to establish additional classes as required.

A list of all special classes, including classes opened for September 2020, is available on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie

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