Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
107. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the efforts her Department and the NCSE are making to address the lack of ASD units in primary schools in south County Tipperary, specifically the Carrick-on-Suir attachment area; her plans to develop new ASD units in primary schools in south County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53417/21]
Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education is a priority for this Government.
Next year, my Department will spend in excess of €2 Billion, or over 25% of the Department’s budget on providing additional teaching and care supports for children with special educational needs.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide.
It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school.
Parents seeking special class placements for their children are advised to contact NCSE locally so that their needs can be taken into account for planning purposes.
The NCSE through their network of SENOs (Special Educational Needs Organisers) are currently engaged in a process of establishing new classes for the 2022/2023 school year and beyond. They are looking at local information in relation to projected demand for future special class places.
The local SENOs remain available to assist and advise parents of children with special educational needs. Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list.
108. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the efforts her Department and the National Council for Special Education are making to find a replacement special education needs organiser for the southern area of County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53418/21]
109. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to appeals by school management in a school (details supplied) with regard to the special needs assistant allocation; if this matter can be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53444/21]
The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews.
The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme is designed to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.
SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource. The deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management of the school. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated.
It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.
In light of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the introduction of the new Frontloaded Allocation Model for SNAs for students in mainstream classes in primary and post -primary schools is to be deferred for a further year to the beginning of the 2022/23 school year.
In order to minimise disruption for schools, in the current circumstances, and to provide for continuity of allocations the following arrangements for the allocation of Special Needs Assistants for mainstream classes for the 2021/22 school year:
- Existing mainstream class SNA allocations in schools on 30 April 2021 will be maintained and will automatically rollover into the 2021/22 school year.
- No school will therefore receive an allocation less than that which they had on 30 April 2021.
- SNAs currently in mainstream settings can continue in post for the next school year in the normal way.
- Priority consideration will now be given by the NCSE to applications for increased support for the 2021/22 school year, in particular, applications from schools with no SNAs and developing schools will be prioritised. Determinations will be made before 30 June. Other applications will be processed in order of date received.
- As in previous years, where circumstances change during the course of the 2021/22 school year that materially increase the level of care need in a school to the extent that the school can clearly demonstrate that it cannot be met within the existing SNA allocation, the school may apply to the NCSE for a review. Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website ncse.ie/for-schools
The NCSE have published the SNA allocations on their website www.ncse.ie.
SNA allocations for special classes and special schools are not affected by this arrangement.
Where a school is dissatisfied with how their exceptional review has been processed or is dissatisfied with the outcome of their exceptional review they can appeal. Applications for Appeal may be submitted through the NCSE Schools Portal: ncse.ie/school-support. Guidelines for the appeal are published here: ncse.ie/for-schools.
Circular 0029/2021 has been published and advises schools of the arrangements for the allocation of SNAs for the 2021/22 school year.
Provisions set out in Circular 0030/2020 has been extended for the 2021/22 school year.
Circulars 29/2021 and 30/2020 are available on the Gov.ie website. www.gov.ie/en/circulars/?organisation=department-of-education
My Department does not have a role in making individual school determinations. Accordingly your correspondence has been forwarded to the NCSE for direct reply.
110. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children with special needs in receipt of home tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53445/21]
The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of specific reasons, are unable to attend school.
Home tuition is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances. By its nature, it is intended to be a short term intervention.
The figures given in the table below are in respect of children who were in receipt of home tuition for a period of time during the year in question.
Special Educational Needs Home Tuition Scheme
This strand of the Home Tuition Scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs for whom such a placement is not available. The scheme also provides for early educational intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ,who meet the scheme’s criteria, aged from 2.5 - 5 years before they start in school.
Children aged 4 years and over, including those with ASD, may enrol in primary placements (including special class and special schools placements). All children must be enrolled in the primary school system, whether through placement in mainstream classes, in special classes or in special schools in the September prior to their sixth birthday.
In such circumstances the NCSE will actively engage at local level with schools, Patron Bodies and the families to ensure that suitable places are provided as soon as possible.
If, following completion of that work, the NCSE has not been able to establish the required school placements it can activate the provisions contained in section 37A of the Education Act 1998 if required.
Medical Home Tuition Scheme
This strand of the Home Tuition Scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for students, enrolled in schools, with significant medical conditions which has caused, and is likely to continue to cause, major disruption to their attendance at school.
In exceptional cases the Department will provide home tuition applications on behalf of students with diagnoses of school phobia and/or associated depression/anxiety which causes major disruption to their attendance at school. This exception will only apply where a continued absence from school is required to facilitate appropriate medical or therapeutic intervention with a view to the re-integration of the student in their school.
No of children in receipt Home Tuition Funding 19/20, 20/21, 21/22 (As of the 28/10/21)
|Age 2.5yrs – 6yrs (Special Educational Needs)||731||775||422|
|Age 6yrs+ (Special Educational Needs)||79||86||35|
I have attached my Departments Circulars 0038/2021 , which sets out the details of the tuition schemes above.