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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 10 March 2022

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna (133)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

133. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Education the steps that she is taking in increase the number of spaces in special classes in south-west areas of County Cork. [13536/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

It is also a key priority for me as Minister for Special Education and Inclusion.

This year, my Department will spend in excess of €2 Billion, or over 25% of the Department’s budget on providing additional teaching and care supports for children with special educational needs. 

This includes funding for a wide range of schemes and supports including special classes, special school places, SNAs and teachers.

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

In terms of the area referenced by the Deputy, I can confirm that the NCSE is aware of an identified need for additional special classes for students with autism at primary and post primary levels in the South West Cork area.

Currently, a network of 45 primary school special classes, including 4 Early Intervention classes, and 22 post primary special classes provide 402 specialist placements for students with autism in the general South West Cork area, 7 of which were newly established for the 2021/2022 school year.

My Department is committed, in conjunction with NCSE and the network of local SENOs, to continue to work with parents, schools, patrons and all stakeholders to ensure that there are sufficient appropriate places for students with additional needs and to support all students to achieve their potential.

NCSE is currently engaging with primary and post primary schools in the general South West Cork area regarding the establishment of additional special classes for 2022/23 and beyond.

Parents seeking special class placements for their children are advised to contact their local SENO so that their needs can be taken into account for planning purposes.

I can assure the Deputy that every support will be made available to progress additional special class capacity, in the shortest possible timeframe, with a particular focus on this area for the 2022/23 school-year.

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