Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
294. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the special education teaching allocation for a school (details supplied) is correct; the rationale for the allocation; if the school can make an appeal; if so, the process for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30315/21]
A new model for allocating Special Education Teachers to mainstream schools was introduced from September 2017, based on the profiled needs of schools.
The allocations were updated for schools with effect from September 2019, with limited readjustments being applied for at that time.
The allocations have remained in place for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years, with some adjustments made over the course of the model for schools which achieved developing status, or successfully appealed on the grounds of exceptional circumstances arising in their schools. Allocations are also provided for new schools which open each year.
DES Circulars 007 and 008 2019, stated that the allocations being made for 2019 would initially remain in place for a minimum of two years, following which, revised profiled allocations would be considered for schools from September 2021.
The NCSE Policy advice ‘A Proposed new Model for Allocating Teaching Resources for Students with Special Educational Needs (2014)’ on which the SET allocation model is based, recommended that ‘the additional teaching supports be left in place initially for a two-year period. As the new model becomes embedded in the system, this may be extended to three years.’
In order to minimise disruption for schools, in the current circumstances, and to provide for continuity of allocations, the Minister for Education and the Minister for Special Education and Inclusion have agreed to maintain the existing Special Education Teacher Allocations for schools for the 2021/22 school year, with re profiled allocations now due to be made from September 2022.
Additional allocations will continue to be made for new schools, schools which achieve developing status, or for exceptional circumstances arising in schools, in the interim.
The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in the Primary and Post Primary School Staffing Schedule for the 2021/22 school year.
Schools who qualify for additional mainstream developing school posts in accordance with these criteria also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.
There are now over 13,600 Special Education Teachers allocated to mainstream primary and post primary schools.
This represents an increase of 40% in the total number of special education teachers allocated to schools since 2011, at which time 9740 teachers were allocated.
Maintaining the existing allocations of Special Education Teachers for the 2021/22 school year means that schools will not have to engage in an extensive redeployment of posts, or re-clustering, this year.
It also means that schools will have greater levels of certainty as to the staff that they will have in place for September.
No school will see a cut, or reduction, to their special education teaching support next year.
Where schools have growing enrolments year on year, they will receive an increased allocation, pending the next re-profiling.
Even in circumstances where some schools were anticipating a greater level of increase year on year, if full re profiling had occurred next year, the increased allocations for developing status combined with the existing allocation of the school will show an increased overall teacher allocation for these schools in 2021/22.
The allocations for 2021/22 which are being maintained comprise the allocations which were made for schools from September 2019 plus any additionality achieved since plus any developing hours for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years.
The SET allocation for the school referred to by the Deputy, for the 2021/22 school school year, is 55.5 hours, which represents over two special education teaching posts, and I can confirm that this is correct.
It is also acknowledged that there are some circumstances, which may arise in schools, which fall outside the allocations for developing school status.
These relate to exceptional or emergency circumstances which could not have been anticipated e.g. where the school profile changes very significantly, or where other exceptional circumstances have arisen in a school and which may require a review of schools capacity to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who need it in the school, or of their utilisation of their allocations.
A process is available where schools can seek a review of their allocations by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), including the utilisation of their allocations, in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.
If a school wishes to make an exceptional needs review, they may do so at the following link: ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Primary-Schools-Review-Application-2020.doc.
Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government.
This year, just under 25% 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.
In relation to the particular case raised by the Deputy, I understand that the relevant support services and agencies, including NEPS and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are aware of the case and are working towards ensuring that the student can be reintegrated into a school placement.
The Deputy will also be aware that the NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. NCSE continues to be available to provide support to this family.