Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Meath East, Fianna Fail)
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155. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the process by which his Department is monitoring the implementation of education plans for children with special educational needs in view of ongoing school closures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5544/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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I wish to advise the Deputy that all schools are encouraged to use Individual Education Plans to assist in providing educational supports for children with special educational needs. The Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate's advice is that the majority of schools are now using some form of individual education planning for children with special needs. The Guidelines for schools on implementing the special education teacher allocation model advises schools as to the importance of ensuring that student support plans or educational plans are in place.

My Department has issued a range of guidance for schools on how to provide for continuing education for pupils over the current school closure period. Additional guidance has also been provided specifically on how schools should provide for the continuity of education for children with special educational needs.

This guidance is available at:

The guidance notes that there is a particular need for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) to have regular, ongoing schooling. While all pupils need to be supported to maintain their engagement in learning, those with SEN are among those who need most support at this time. Examples of strategies and measures to ensure that the needs of pupils with SEN are catered for, are provided in the guidance documents and a range of resources are also identified for parents.

The guidance sets out the role of the special education teacher to support children with special educational needs at this time. It notes that the special education teachers knowledge of their pupils’ priority learning needs and agreed targets, as outlined in the pupil support file, will enable them to work with parents and guardians to choose appropriate supports in a remote learning environment.

Special Education Teachers (SETs) are asked to carefully examine how progress on the existing learning targets in student support plans can be reasonably extended by home learning. They are asked to use this knowledge to communicate with the pupils and their parents and guardians and to establish what methods will work best to achieve continuity of learning for the pupils.

Schools should review the pupil’s support plans to identify aspects of the programme that can be worked on in the home environment and are advised that planning should be pupil focused and aligned with the learning targets as set out in the support file for the pupil.

The school leadership team will have a key role in monitoring and affirming the whole-school effort to ensure consistency and promote sharing of practice. This team, comprising the principal and those with assigned management or coordination duties are advised to encourage and supporting teachers as they develop their practices towards distance learning for pupils with SEN.

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