Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Health and Safety Inspections

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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288. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the situation at a school (details supplied); his views on whether the board of management of the school has a responsibility with regard to a health and safety report on the school which it has received; if the staffing levels in place at the school will not be reduced as a result of the school complying with its health and safety advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11489/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

The Board of Management of each school is responsible for the care and safety of all of the students in their school and care and safety should be at the centre of all policy and practices.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in special schools, in accordance with the policies of my Department.

Staffing arrangements for special schools are in line with policy advice provided by the NCSE in 2013, which did not recommend alteration to staffing ratios established under the Special Education Review Committee (SERC) Report in 1993. 

Enhanced pupil teacher and SNA ratios are provided to special schools to support them in dealing with pupils' educational and care needs.

Since 2012, special schools are staffed on the basis of individual pupil profile and the disability categorisations of those pupils, as opposed to being based primarily on school designation, in accordance with my Department's most recent Circular 0032/2019 - Appointment of Administrative Deputy Principal and Staffing in Special Schools.

Special school staffing allocations are reviewed and updated each year by the NCSE and special schools are staffed on the basis of each year’s current school enrolments.  

The NCSE are currently undertaking policy advice on the educational provision that should be in place for students educated in special schools and special classes. This policy advice will make recommendations on the provision required to enable students in special schools and classes achieve better outcomes. 

The NCSE have been asked to complete and submit it’s report to the Minister not later than December 2020. There will be no change to the staffing arrangements currently in place in special schools, pending the receipt and consideration of this policy advice.

The NCSE recently published their staffing allocation for 2020-21, and this is available on their website at www.ncse.ie

My Department is aware of correspondence from the school named by the deputy, on the matters raised in his question. This correspondence is currently under consideration. 


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