Tuesday, 28 June 2022
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
595. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the education supports and school place options that are available for a child (details supplied) who is currently unable to access a school place appropriate to their special needs. [33635/22]
Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education is a priority for this Government.
This year, my Department will spend in excess of €2 Billion, or over 25% of the Department’s budget on providing a wide range of schemes and supports for children with special educational needs.
This includes additional teaching and care supports.
As a result, the number of special education teachers, special needs assistants and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children with special educational needs nationwide.
Over the last two years, my Department and the NCSE have worked closely on a more streamlined and joined up planning process which has ensured a targeted approach to meet demand for special needs placements ahead of each new school-year.
I am satisfied that this more joined up approach is delivering. Through this intensive intervention, we have seen an additional 300 special classes, providing 1,800 new places, opened nationwide for the 2021/22 school-year.
I also acknowledge that notwithstanding the extent of this investment, there are some parts of the country where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.
The NCSE has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.
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.
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.
Parents seeking special class or school placements for their children are advised to contact NCSE locally so that their needs can be taken into account for planning purposes.
As your query refers to an individual placement case, I will arrange to have it referred to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.