Written answers

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

9:00 pm

Photo of Jack WallJack Wall (Kildare South, Labour)
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Question 231: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if a submission (details supplied) will be considered in relation to the request for a primary school place for a person; the mechanism the family should follow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9382/12]

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Minister, Department of Education and Skills; Dublin South East, Labour)
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I wish to advise the Deputy that the enrolment of a child in a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

The policy of my Department is to secure the maximum possible level of inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, in order to ensure that as many children as possible can be educated with their peers within their own community.

My Department therefore provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs in order to ensure that, wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education. Children with special educational needs may be enrolled in a mainstream school and attend all mainstream classes and receive additional teaching support through the learning support and/or resource teacher. Or they may enrol in a mainstream school and attend a special class, or they may enrol in a special school.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB will try to help parents to find a school placement if their child has been unable to secure a school placement to date. The NEWB can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

In addition, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) can assist parents to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs.

Parents may contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child’s special educational needs and to seek assistance in identifying placement options, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Only where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld, may the Secretary General of my Department direct a school to enrol a pupil.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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Question 232: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to any reported difficulties in the use of interactive whiteboard technologies for children with autism spectrum disorders and related sensory difficulties; if his attention has been drawn to any problems caused by the flickering effect in the operation of whiteboards; if so, the remedial measures that will be taken to solve such problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9392/12]

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Minister, Department of Education and Skills; Dublin South East, Labour)
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I am not aware of any reported difficulties in the use of interactive whiteboard technologies for children with autism spectrum disorders and related sensory difficulties. If the Deputy is aware of any specific problems in this regard I would be very grateful if she could forward me the relevant details as soon as possible.

As the Deputy may be aware, under the terms of the 2009/2010 ICT Infrastructure grant my Department did not prescribe any specific ICT configuration in the context of teaching and learning for pupils with special educational needs. Given the range of individual needs, a single central technical recommendation would not be appropriate. School boards of management have full autonomy therefore in choosing equipment which best supports local needs, subject of course to appropriate provision in relation to health and safety. In that regard, in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, individual school authorities are responsible in the first instance for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care.

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