Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Education and Skills
176. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in Dublin 1, 3, 7, 9 and 11 on the waiting list for a primary school place in a special needs school for September 2019. [9069/19]
177. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the funding and resources necessary to guarantee each child with special needs in Dublin 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 with an appropriate school place for September 2019 will be provided. [9070/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 to 177, inclusive, together.
The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools and it does not maintain details of waiting lists in schools.
My Department's policy is to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs in mainstream school settings, unless such a placement would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, or the children with whom they will be educated.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through it's network of Special Needs Organisers, for the development and delivery and co-ordination of education services to children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special class and special school placements.
Accordingly, the NCSE advises parents, to seek to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice as early as possible. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.
The selection and enrolment of pupils is the responsibility of the management authorities in each individual school.
The NCSE’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area, can between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing specialised placements, including placement in special schools.
However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.
Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parent’s choice are respected.
The NCSE is continuing to work with schools, parents, National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in the North Dublin area for children with special educational needs, to ensure that each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2019/20 school year and beyond.
Section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which commenced on Monday 3rd December 2018, will provide me with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the Board of Management and the patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.
As the Deputy's questions relates to a particular special school, I have arranged for it to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.