Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
Supports for childcare, including pre-school education, are provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).
The principal vehicle for the delivery of pre-school education is the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme which provides early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age.
I would like to advise the Deputy that queries in relation to the operation of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme should be addressed to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
My Department does not provide funding to pre-school services other than to early intervention special classes in recognised primary schools.
ASD early intervention special classes are intended to provide early support for children with ASD before they start school. Following early intervention, children will attend a mainstream class unless there is professional guidance that they require a special class or a placement in a special school.
ASD early intervention special classes are available for children under 6 years of age and who will not reach the age of 6 during the school year who have an ASD diagnosis and a recommendation for an early intervention placement.
Since 2011, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased almost threefold, from 548 to 1,618 for the 2019/2020 school year. There are currently 133 ASD early intervention special classes nationally. 167 new special classes were established nationally for 2019/20 school year, of which 6 were ASD early intervention special classes.
There are currently 30 special classes in Co Laois, including 4 ASD early intervention special classes.
A list of special classes, including ASD early intervention special classes for September 2019 is available on the NCSE website at:
Budget 2020 provided for an additional 265 special class teaching posts in 2020, which will allow for the opening of additional special classes, including ASD erly Intervention special classes, where required.
The NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents; and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing specialised placements.
It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. My Department works closely with the NCSE in this regard. In considering these applications, however, the NSCE, in conjunction with the school buildings unit of my Department, will be required to take into account the capacity of a school to establish such a class, including the provision of sufficient accommodation space within the school.
The NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and special school places nationally to meet identified need for next year. This process is ongoing.
The NCSE's Local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise both schools and the parents of children with special educational needs in relation to school placements for children with disabilities, including ASD early intervention special class placements.