Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs Service Provision
228. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for the usage of the low incidence list as a reference point for the distribution of educational support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36259/16]
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory role under the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 to provide me with policy advice in relation to matters concerning the education of persons with special educational needs.
The NCSE identified that the current model for allocating resource teachers to schools is potentially inequitable, because access to the range of professional assessments required for the diagnosis of low incidence disabilities is not always readily available to those who cannot afford to access them privately.
The NCSE has also advised that the current model can lead to unnecessary labelling of children from a young age.
The NCSE has proposed a new resource teaching allocation model which will, when introduced, remove the formal requirement for diagnostic assessment to access additional support and which will provide resources to schools based on school profiles.
Details of the recommendations contained in the NCSE Working Group policy advice on ‘A Proposed New Model for Allocating Teaching Resources for Students with Special Educational Needs is available at .
As part the recent Budget announcements, I announced that following development and piloting over the past number of years, a new model for the allocation of teaching resources for children with special educational needs will be implemented from September 2017.
An additional €18 million will be provided in 2017 to provide for around 900 resource teacher posts.
Further details regarding implementation of the new model will be announced in the coming months.
229. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered using specialised classrooms for all those with complex needs wishing to attend mainstream schools, as opposed to autistic spectrum disorder, ASD, units for those with an autism diagnosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36260/16]
The Deputy will be aware that this Government is committed to ensuring that all children with Special Educational Needs, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.
Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.
In respect of children with Special Educational Needs who are unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports, they may be enrolled in special classes within their local mainstream schools where more intensive and supportive interventions are provided. Students enrolled in special classes should be included in mainstream classes to the greatest extent possible, in line with their abilities.
The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE continues to engage with schools in opening special classes where there is an identified need for special class provision.
It should be noted that in establishing special classes, or special class units, the NCSE is not constrained to only establish special classes or units for pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Many special classes have also been established, and continue to be established, to support pupils who a range of other significant or complex special educational needs, such as visual or hearing impairment, physical disabilities, or severe general learning difficulties.
The NCSE published a list of special classes for the 2016/17 school year. In total there are 1,153 special classes available, which is an increase of over 100% in the number of special classes which were available in 2011, which was 548. This list, which is available at provides details of the disability categorisation of each class.
The NCSE recently launched guidelines for Boards of Management and Principals of Primary and Post Primary schools which provide information on setting up and organising special classes, including information on grants which may be provided to schools to establish special classes. The guidelines are available to download from www.ncse.ie.