Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs Service Provision
I wish to advise the Deputy, firstly, that in relation to the provision of additional teaching support for the child referred to in this question, that DES Circular 007/2019 for primary schools and 008/2019 for post primary schools, set out the details of the model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile. This model has replaced the previous model of allocating resource teaching support and learning support to schools.
The Special Education Teacher allocation, allows schools to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who require such support in their schools and for schools to deploy resources based on each pupil’s individual learning needs.
It gives flexibility to schools as to how they can deploy their resources, to take account of the actual learning needs pupils have, as opposed to being guided by a particular diagnosis of disability, and schools are guided as to how they should make such allocation decisions.
All schools are therefore resourced to provide additional teaching support for pupils who may require extra support and guidance has been provided to schools as to how they should utilise and deploy their resources under the new allocation model. These guidelines are available at www.education.ie.
In relation to the provision of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Support, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of SNA support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.
The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.
In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.
SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.
SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.
The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.
Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, it may continue to make applications to the NCSE.
As this question relates to the provision of SNA support to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for its direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.