Tuesday, 17 May 2005
Department of Education and Science
Special Educational Needs
Question 344: To ask the Minister for Education and Science if a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9 will be given the maximum support and financial assistance in 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16041/05]
The school in question is a special school for the visually impaired. The school has an enrolment of 26 and has the services of seven teachers, including the principal. The pupil teacher ratio for pupils with visual impairment is 8:1. In addition, the school has the support of five special needs assistants. Other resources include enhanced capitation grants and as with all other schools it is open to the school to apply for grants towards any assistive technology needs that the pupils may have. My Department is liaising with the school management in the context of the need for development works on the school site.
The Deputy will be aware that with effect from 1 January 2005, the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, has taken over responsibility for processing resource applications for children with disabilities who have special educational needs. Under the new arrangements, the council, through the local special educational needs organiser, SENO, will process the relevant application for resources at primary and post-primary level and inform the school of the outcome. My officials have been in contact with the NCSE and have been advised that there are no outstanding applications on hand from the school. I am confident that the advent of the NCSE will prove of major benefit in ensuring that all children with special educational needs receive the support they require when and where they require it.
Question 345: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the outcome of a meeting between her officials and the SENO relative to the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if the supports outlined in the person's assessment report will now be granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16054/05]
I can confirm that my officials made contact with the National Council for Special Education which advised that no application for special education needs supports had been received by the local special education needs organiser, SENO, in respect of the pupil in question.
The Deputy indicated in previous correspondence that the pupil has a specific learning disability. This disability falls into the high incidence disability category. My Department's officials have since confirmed with the school authorities that the pupil's needs are being catered for from within the school's current special education needs provision.
With regard to teaching supports for pupils within the high incidence categories, my Department has now completed its review of the general allocation system of resource teaching support. The new model replaces that which was notified to schools in June 2004, which has been reviewed to take account of difficulties that it may have caused for smaller schools.
I can confirm that 660 additional special needs teaching posts will be put in place in primary schools from next September to facilitate the implementation of the new general allocation system. The introduction of this new system will involve the provision of an estimated additional 340 permanent posts in primary schools from September next. A further 320 posts are being provided on a temporary basis to facilitate the transition to the new system. It is a matter for schools to make arrangements to provide teaching support to those pupils who qualify for such support from its general allocation.
My Department is now devising school clusters in respect of allocations to be made under the general allocation system. These will be notified to schools shortly along with the details of each school's individual allocation. This communication will clarify the position regarding the resource and learning support allocation available to the school in which the pupil in question is enrolled. My Department is also finalising a circular for schools which will contain detailed information on how the new system will operate. It is intended that this circular will issue before the end of the current school year.