Thursday, 27 June 2013
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs Staffing
114. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the National Council for Special Education took three months from the March closing date for applications in respect of special needs assistants to announce their decisions; if he appreciates the wide-spread concern being expressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31246/13]
I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the allocation of resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of Special Education supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.
All schools were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2013/14 school year by 15th March 2013. The NCSE then proceeded to process these applications in order to ensure that schools would be notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2013/14 in advance of the coming school year, based on the number of valid applications received.
As the NCSE allocates resources to schools to support over 30,000 pupils annually, some time is required to process all of the applications which are received each year, in advance of notifying schools of their allocations. The NCSE were also required to consider an unprecedented surge in demand for resource teaching support this year.
I can assure the Deputy that this process has been done as expeditiously as possible by the NCSE to allow schools and principals sufficient time to plan for the coming school year.
The NCSE initially published details of the allocations for SNAs and resource teaching hours for the 2013/2014 school year on Wednesday 19th June.
The Deputy will be aware that on 25th June, I advised that I have now authorised the NCSE to retain the level of resource teaching allocations which can be provided for students with special educational needs to the 2012/13 levels. This will mean that there will not now be any reduction to resource teaching time for children over the level which applied last year.
The NCSE will publish revised details of the Resource Teaching allocations for all schools, based on existing allocation levels, on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie and will also advise schools of their revised allocations.
In the longer term, it is proposed to develop new allocations system to improve how we provide our allocations to schools. I have requested the NCSE to establish a Working Group to develop a proposal, for consideration, for a tailored' allocation model, which will underpin a new allocation system for teaching supports for children with Special Educational Needs based on the profiled educational needs of children in schools.