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Autism Support Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 28 April 2021

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Ceisteanna (556)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


556. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education the position regarding primary school places for children with additional needs in the Dublin 12 area; the steps each school in Dublin 12 has taken or will take to ensure that in September 2021 there will be sufficient spaces in the schools for ASD classes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21494/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government. 

This year, over 20% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs.   As a result, the numbers of special education teachers, SNAs and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels. 

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide.

NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and special school places nationally, to meet identified need. This process is ongoing. Through better planning at both national and local level, it is my objective that specialist education places should come on stream to meet emerging demand on a timely basis. However, the active collaboration of school communities is essential in this regard. 

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. 

Notwithstanding the extent of this investment, there are some parts of the country, including South Dublin, where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.

The Deputy will be aware of the process underway in South Dublin under Section 37A of the Education Act, 1998. Statutory notices issued under the Act together with the representations received from the schools and their patrons are published on my Department’s website. As the legal process is still underway, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage. 

Minister Foley and I also announced the establishment of a new special school (Our Lady of Hope School) in Crumlin, Dublin 12 last December. Both the NCSE and my Department are working closely with the patron and the school's management team on the practical arrangements required to progress this project as speedily as possible.

Finally, I can reassure the Deputy that the local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) continue to be available to assist and advise both schools and the parents of children with special educational needs. Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list . 

Information on the list of schools with special classes, the type and location of these classes is published on the NCSE website and is available at www.ncse.ie