Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
293. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her views on the situation in which children who have moderate to severe additional speech and language and occupational therapy needs are placed in a mainstream ASD class setting in none of those needs that are met; her further views on whether this is not meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49606/21]
My Department aims to ensure that all children with special educational needs are provided with an education appropriate to their needs.
Where possible, children with special educational needs are educated in mainstream classes alongside their peers unless to do so would not be in the best interests of the pupils concerned or the other pupils in the class. This approach is consistent with the provisions of Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004.
Children with special educational needs in a mainstream classes receive additional supports including teaching and care in line with their level of need.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), an agency of my Department provides evidence based policy advice on special educational matters and the nature and scope of education provision and supports required to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs.
In circumstances where children with special educational needs require more specialist placements, special school or special class places are provided for. These placements cater for designated categories of educational need including speech and language. These settings have reduced pupil:teacher ratios and allocations of SNA in accordance with the level of complexity of need. A recommendation by an appropriate professional is required to access a specialist placement.
In general, speech and language and occupational therapy supports are provided by the HSE.
Currently, my Department’s budget for special education exceeds €2bn which funds the costs of almost 14,000 special education teachers and 18,000 SNAs which supports a broad continuum of education for children with special needs.