Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Special Educational Needs
I wish to reassure Deputy Wallace. There has been a 41% increase in the number of resource teachers since 2011, a 23% increase in special needs assistants and a 100% increase in the number of autism spectrum disorder classes in schools. Substantial investment is ongoing. I agree that parents need a better say. That is why we are introducing a parents charter Bill, the heads of which will go to the committee for evaluation. We have instituted an inclusion support service through the National Council for Special Education. This will help schools to implement the new approach.
Deputy Wallace is right to point out that complex challenges arise in the mental health area. Some of the earlier questions dealt with that. We need to enhance our role in this area. The roll-out of the National Educational Psychological Service, the well-being programme in the junior cycle and the restoration of guidance counselling are all part of an approach to try to put greater emphasis on the mental health of young people in schools as well.