Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Special Educational Needs

7:55 pm

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

On the question of substitution in general, I have outlined the measures being taken. There is the question of hours being lost. One of the schemes we introduced is the Covid Learning and Support Scheme, CLASS, at €56.2 million, which is to help children who lost time during Covid-19. That is in addition to the summer provision and the supplementary scheme at Easter. If children with additional needs have lost hours, as the Deputy mentions, although I will not comment on individual cases, it should first be brought to the attention of the principal of the school. He or she could liaise with the Department if there is an issue and they cannot work it out internally within the school. The case could also be brought to the attention of a special education teacher.

As I have said, there should be sufficient substitutes. The Minister, Deputy Foley, has looked at this in terms of expanding substitution and the substitute portal so as to make teachers who are job-sharing, those on career leave and in other schemes available. It is about getting more people, and particularly those part-time teachers, to register on the substitute portal so they can assist. No child should be losing hours.

There must be a way of working this out. I suggest the people affected contact the school and if there are any issues, the Deputy can let me know so I can follow up also. The National Council for Special Education has local special educational needs organisers on the ground. I know the matter is very close to the Deputy's heart and I heard her bring it up with the Tánaiste. If there are any issues, she could speak to me again about it.


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