Wednesday, 10 March 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government.
This year, over 20% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs. As a result, the numbers of special education teachers, SNAs and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.
Through better planning at both national and local level, it is my objective that specialist education places should come on stream to meet emerging demand on a timely basis. However, the active collaboration of school communities is essential in this regard.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and special school places nationally, to meet identified need. This process is ongoing.
Notwithstanding the extent of the investment in special education and the supports which have been put in place, I am also very conscious that there are some parts of the country where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.
I can assure the Deputy that the NCSE is acutely aware of these concerns and is continuing its engagement with schools, patron bodies, parents and other stakeholders to bring the required additional special education placements on stream.
My Department will continue to support the NCSE and schools through the provision of the necessary funding and capital investment to ensure all children are successful in accessing an education and I want to reassure you that the delivery of the necessary additional provision is being progressed as an absolute priority.
The admission policies of schools are the remit of the Board of Management of each school and, as such, the NCSE has no role in relation to the number of applicants or waiting lists. Once schools notify NCSE of vacancies within their specialist provision, SENOs work locally to ensure parents are made aware of these special class places.
I am assured that the local SENO is currently engaging with, and remains available, to support these families in finding a suitable placement.