Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Education and Skills
Autism Support Services
223. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if an ASD unit for autistic children is included in the accommodation to be provided in a new school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if not, the location in which children from the school catchment area requiring an ASD unit will be accommodated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9547/19]
I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no current provision to include an ASD unit for the school in question. There is currently a major building project, in architectural planning, for the school in question, which is currently at Stage 2b – Detailed Design.
The pre-qualification process to select a shortlist of suitable contractors is now complete and the Design Team is currently completing work to ensure the new school building is NZEB compliant. Once this work is complete the Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with a view to progressing the project to tender stage. If an ASD Unit is to be added now it will delay the project going to tender as the school authority will have to re-apply for planning permission and the ASD accommodation will have to be designed and integrated into the overall design.
A decision to sanction a Special Needs Base in a specific school is a matter for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). Schools may apply to the NCSE to open a Special Needs Base where a need has been identified in their area. The local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO), in looking to open such a Base must take into account the present and future potential need for such bases, taking particular account of the educational needs of the children concerned.
If a requirement for a Special Needs Base is identified by the NCSE, for the school referred to by the Deputy, it is open to the school authority to make an application to my Department for the provision of such accommodation.