Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Speech and Language Therapy

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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192. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to amend a circular regarding criteria for enrolment in special classes for pupils with speech and language difficulties; if the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5846/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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My Department provides an extensive range of supports for pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD).  This includes provision for the establishment of special classes for pupils with SSLD in primary schools.

A total of 63 Specific Speech and Language Disorder special classes in mainstream primary schools have been provided for the 2019/20 school year. This compares to 60 such special classes in 2011/12. In the period 2011 to 2019, the number of SSLD special classes has ranged from 60 - 65, depending on need.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including applications to establish special classes for SSLD.  Applications meeting the criteria for establishment are approved by the NCSE.

The opening and retention of a Speech and Language class is, however, contingent on the HSE being in a position to provide Speech and Language therapy to the students in the class.  The availability and provision of speech and language therapy is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The enrolment of pupils in an SSLD special class is managed locally by an Admissions & Discharges Committee, comprising the Speech and Language Therapy Manager, Speech and Language Therapist, Class Teacher and Principal.   

Students who are not enrolled in a special class for SSLD and who meet the criteria for Specific Speech and Language Disorder, as outlined in Circular 0038/2007, may qualify for additional Special Education Teaching support; as may students with mild speech and language difficulties. It is a matter for individual schools to use their professional judgement to identify pupils who will receive this support and to use the resources available to the school to intervene at the appropriate level with such students. My Department is not directly involved in these decisions.

As outlined in my Department's Circular 0038/2007, eligible pupils may spend up to two years in Specific Speech and Language Disorder Classes.

The NCSE are curently developing Policy Advice on Special Classes and Special Schools, which is now due to be completed by December 2002.

There will be no change to the criteria for enrolment in special classes for pupils with speech and language difficulties, pending the outcome of this Policy Advice.


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