Thursday, 21 January 2016
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs Staffing
137. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will address concerns raised in correspondence regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2554/16]
I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs attending Special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's policy in allocating this support.
Staffing arrangements for special schools are in line with policy advice provided by the NCSE which did not recommend alteration to staffing ratios established under SERC Report in 1993.
Circular 0042/2011 provides information to schools regarding the staffing arrangements which apply in Special schools.
The Circular sets out that special schools are staffed based on their pupil profiles and the disability category of the pupils enrolled, as opposed to being based principally on school designation. Staffing levels therefore reflect the complexity of needs that exist within schools rather than being determined solely by a school's designation, in recognition that many Special schools enrol students from disability categories other than from those provided for by their school designations.
In determining the staffing allocation for schools, the NCSE takes into account up-to-date enrolment and pupil profile information. School staffing schedules are reviewed and updated each year by the NCSE. As such, the profile of Special school pupil populations are aligned with appropriate staffing allocations. Accordingly, the staffing allocation for the school referred to in the Deputy's question reflects the profile of pupils currently enrolled in the school, in accordance with each pupil's disability categorisation.
The NCSE has recently submitted their Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In developing this policy advice, the NCSE has consulted widely with parents, professionals and other stakeholders and interested parties while also conducting research.
The advice is intended to identify the nature and extent of educational intervention/s, teaching practices and other supports which should be provided to enable children with autism to achieve educational outcomes appropriate to their needs and abilities.
The policy advice is currently under consideration in my Department.