Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Education and Skills

National Council for Special Education

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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225. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the NCSE will approve the opening of a new class in a school (details supplied) to meet local pupil needs in view of the fact that pupils were turned away in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17944/21]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government. The Department of Education will spend approximately €2 Billion or over 20% of its total educational budget in 2021 on making additional provision for children with special educational needs this year.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. It has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents. NCSE seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special education placements.

The NCSE, through its local network of SENOs (Special Educational Needs Organisers), is available to provide advice and support to parents of students on the possible placement options available to their child, including mainstream placement with appropriate support, special class placement and special school placement. Post-primary placements are supported with additional resources where required.

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 this investment, I am acutely aware 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.

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.

NCSE is aware of those parents whose children are seeking placement for the 2021/22 academic year, including mainstream placement with appropriate support, special class and special school placement. The NCSE continues to work to identify any and all relevant suitable placements.

In circumstances, where no placement is available for a child with special educational needs, the Department can provide Home Tuition grant funding towards the provision of 20 hours home tuition per week as an interim measure until the NCSE confirms that a placement is available.

Special schools do not apply to the NCSE to open additional classes. Since 2012 special schools have been staffed on the basis of their profile, including numbers of students and the disability category of each student. The Class teachers allocated to Special Schools are allocated in accordance with Department of Education Circular 0042/2011. School staffing schedules are reviewed and updated each year by the NCSE who collect up to date details of pupils attending special schools. Accordingly the staffing levels and pupil/teacher ratios reflect the profile of need that exists within an individual school.

In respect of the school in question I understand that an application for additional accommodation for September 2021 has been submitted to my Department’s School Building Unit and is currently being reviewed.

The NCSE's local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) remains available to parents and may be contacted directly using the contact details available at: .


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