Written answers

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Chris AndrewsChris Andrews (Dublin Bay South, Sinn Fein)
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538. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the fact that white bright paper does not assist pupils with dyslexia with reading and learning; if she will examine the possibility of producing dyslexia friendly workbooks for primary school children given that school workbooks are printed on white paper; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50384/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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In general, my Department does not have a role in approving, commissioning, sponsoring or endorsing any content in any educational textbook. The current policy within my Department is not to endorse any particular product or publication, including textbooks. There are a small number of exceptions where my Department has procured textbooks or resources in order to fill a need – for example with Leaving certificate Japanese and Italian. However, as with all textbooks there is no obligation for a school to use these in their delivery of the curriculum. Apart from a small number of prescribed texts at post-primary, determined by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), the decisions on which textbooks to use in primary and post-primary schools are taken at school level.

The majority of textbooks are commissioned and published by educational publishers, and schools select their books from those available from a number of publishers. The Irish Educational Publishers Association (IEPA) meets with the NCCA in order to discuss the curriculum and to be made aware of any requirements in the curriculum. However the content of any individual textbook is determined by the publisher themselves, and therefore any queries regarding specific content in any particular textbook should be directed to the publisher.

The role of the school is to provide an appropriate education for all its pupils.  A stable, secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this goal.  Schools have autonomy in choosing the resources and programmes that best support the work within their own classrooms.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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539. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the plans envisaged for the provision of ASD classes at a school (details supplied). [50387/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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My Department generally include a Special Education Needs (SEN) Base in all new schools, in appropriate replacement school buildings and major extensions. 

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive. This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need. 

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE takes account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements. 

Major buildings projects that include accommodation for special classes are being planned for two post primary schools (other than the school in question) in the town to which the Deputy refers.

One of these schools opened in interim accommodation in September 2021. It is my Department's intention to make provision for two special classes in the school's interim accommodation for September 2022. This is subject to planning permission being granted by the local authority.

The process to secure a site to construct a new 1,000 pupil school, to include a 4-classroom special education needs (SEN) base for the school has been initiated. 

In relation to a second post primary school in the town, a major building project to provide permanent accommodation for 1,300 pupils is currently at stage 1 of the architectural planning process. The project, when completed, will include accommodation for a 2-classroom SEN base.

In general, when the NCSE sanctions a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to accommodate the class under the Additional School Accommodation (ASA) scheme if the accommodation is not already being delivered as part of a building project. 

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no current record of receiving an application for additional accommodation from the school to which the question refers.  


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