Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

National Council for Special Education: Chairperson Designate

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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Mr. Hayes could see us as welcome and willing partners in trying to provide the best possible educational and holistic experience for our children, young people and adults with special needs. There was reference to a conference in the correspondence, and if it is at all possible, we would be happy to attend. Regardless of whether we can or not, it may be useful after the event to have some engagement with Mr. Hayes about the themes that emerge from the conference. The area of special needs and intellectual disability is something that we as a committee have focused on quite a bit. No later than last Thursday, we discussed this area with the Minister in the context of one of our reports on children with special needs and children in disadvantaged areas. Mr. Hayes is certainly pushing an open door if we can do anything to help him on his journey.

Deputies Martin and O'Sullivan asked what Mr. Hayes viewed as the challenges, but I would like to ask him about the priorities and vision he will set for his first 18 months. Obviously, the council's remit will be extended as the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 - the EPSEN Act - is fully commenced. While certain sections have already been commenced, the implementation of key sections that confer statutory rights to assessments, educational plans and appeal processes has been deferred due to economic circumstances. The council will be committed to working towards achieving the Act's ambitions, but is there any particular provision of it that Mr. Hayes would like to see commenced as a priority?