Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Special Educational Needs

11:00 am

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

I thank the Deputy, who has raised this issue with me previously.

When we are talking about special classes in general, we have to look at it in the context of the journey that we have been on. That is not to say that we still have a great deal of work to do but we have increased the number of special classes by 386% since 2011 and that is quite significant.

At the end of December, we will have 2,437 classes opened. Three hundred of those are new classes this year. We are creating approximately 1,700 special class places.

We are making progress but, as the Deputy will be well aware, there are pinch points in certain areas, particularly in cities such as Dublin and Cork.

The majority of schools in Dublin 12 have opened special classes, including four new classes in the current school year. The National Council for Special Education, NCSE, is continuing to engage with other schools. At present, in Dublin 12, there are 21 special classes. Fifteen are primary, including two early intervention classes, and then there are six post-primary. Out of four of these, three are primary and one is post-primary. They are all newly established as well this year: Loreto Senior National School, Loreto Junior School, St. Damian's National School on Clogher Road and City College.

There are also schools, as the Deputy will be aware because she has raised it with me in the past, that have ongoing building projects or proposed building projects in train. There will be a new ASD class in Holy Spirit, Greenhills in 2022-23. The building work has commenced. Scoil Úna Naofa is employing a consultant to oversee building works with a view to starting up a new class there. The NCSE is liaising with Drimnagh Castle school. They do not have the space at present but we are looking to see whether schemes are available there. There is the additional accommodation scheme and there are other works that can be done to try to facilitate special classes in these particular schools.


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