Thursday, 12 May 2022
Department of Education and Skills
82. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the steps that she is taking to ensure the delivery of an effective visiting teachers for children with hearing and visual impairments service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22472/22]
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) was assigned responsibility for the management and direction of the Visiting Teachers Service for children with hearing or visual impairment with effect from 20th March 2017. It was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children. Formally established under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN Act), the NCSE now has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. As the visiting teacher service forms a really important part of the NCSE support service for schools, the visiting teachers are now recruited, deployed and managed by the NCSE.
The visiting teachers are qualified teachers with particular skills and knowledge of the development and education of children with varying degrees of hearing loss and/or visual impairment. They offer longitudinal support to children, their families and schools from the time of referral through to the end of post-primary education. They help children to develop tactile and sensory skills and give advice on self-help and other skills needed for independent living. They provide support in the development of pre-Braille skills, where necessary, and give instruction in mobility where appropriate.
Each visiting teacher operates in a particular region and manages a caseload of students. The visiting teacher supports children/young people, parents, guardians, teachers and other professionals involved with the child. Each visiting teacher works in partnership with parents to advise, and offer guidance, in matters pertaining to the child’s education and overall development. The frequency and nature of support takes into account a range of factors based on the individual’s needs.
Currently there are 43 visiting teacher posts, allocated across the 10 NCSE regional teams, supported by teams of professionals and agencies such as audiological scientists, ophthalmology services, speech and language therapists, low vision specialists, psychologists, early intervention teams and school staff.