Thursday, 27 June 2013
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs Staffing
117. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form a breakdown by county of the number of learning support teachers posts; the number of resource teacher posts, the number of special needs assistants, the number of pupils requiring special needs support at primary level, the number of pupils requiring special needs support at second level, the number of special classes in mainstream schools and the number of pupils in each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31269/13]
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 primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports including resource teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.
Details of the resource teaching and SNA allocations which have been made to schools by the NCSE for the 2012/2013 and 2013/14 school years are available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie and can be viewed on a per county basis.
Details of special classes attached to mainstream schools at primary and post primary level on a county by county basis are also available on the NCSE website. Details of any new special classes which will be opened for the coming school year will also be detailed on the NCSE website once this has been finalised.
I wish to explain to the Deputy that pupil numbers vary in Special Classes on the basis of the disability categorisation of the special class, which ranges from a 6:1 to 11:1 pupil teacher ratio. It is not possible to provide an actual figure for enrolment levels in special classes, as class numbers can fluctuate throughout the school year as pupils enrol and leave special classes, while in some cases some pupils are partially integrated between special and mainstream classes.
I wish to advise the Deputy also that, since September 2012, the combined resources available for learning support (General Allocation Model at Primary) and language support at both primary and second level have been merged into a single simplified allocation process. Details of these allocations have been published by my Department on a county basis, available at .
Regarding the number of pupils requiring additional support at Primary and Post Primary levels, I wish to advise the Deputy that mainstream primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources under the General Allocation Model (GAM) to cater for children with high incidence special educational needs, including mild and borderline mild general learning difficulties. It is a matter for school authorities to determine how these hours are utilised to support eligible pupils. Similar autonomy applies in Post Primary schools in relation to additional teaching allocations in respect of pupils with high incidence special educational needs. My Department therefore does not hold details of the number of pupils being supported through these mechanisms.
I can advise the Deputy, however, that the NCSE has recently published comprehensive policy advice on Supporting Students Special Educational Needs in Schools, which contains detailed information regarding the number of pupils with special educational needs being supported in schools, and the number of pupils in receipt of additional supports by disability category. This report is available at www.ncse.ie.