Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
365. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the recently announced extended summer provision scheme will make it possible as in previous years for children with autism to avail of two weeks in-school provision followed by an additional two weeks provision in their own home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28370/21]
The Government has approved the provision of significantly expanded summer education programmes for pupils with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage, as a COVID-19 pandemic response measure, for summer 2021.
It is accepted that school-based programmes provide a more holistic experience for the students and help retain the important connection with school and peers.
The programme’s aims are to support students to re-engage with education, to build their confidence and increase their motivation, promote wellbeing and for some who are at key transition stages, help to ensure they can move on to their planned educational placement next September along with their peers.
As has been the case in previous years, the Department does not allow for Parents to access both the home and school-based strands of the programme. The home based strand is only available where a child's school does not offer a programme.
The provision of education for children with special needs is an ongoing priority for Government. The numbers of special classes, special education teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are at unprecedented levels.
My Department will spend approximately €2 Billion, or over 20% of its total educational budget on making additional provision for children with special educational needs in 2021. This represents an increase of over 50% in total expenditure since 2011, at which point €1.247 Billion per annum was provided.
Budget 2021 provided for an additional 990 additional SNAs for allocation to schools, bringing the total numbers to 18,000 by December 2021. This will represent an increase of increase of 70% in the number of SNAs provided since 2011 at which point 10,575 SNAs were available.
This allocation of SNAs is to meet the care needs of pupils in 2021 and will enable the establishment of new special classes, creation of new places in special schools, support for children in mainstream classes for the 2021/22 school year.
It would not be appropriate at this stage to comment on expected outcomes from the 2022 budgetary process which is now getting under way.