Written answers

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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76. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to support the proposal of the board of management of a school (details supplied) to use the already sanctioned ASD class for students with an ASD diagnosis already enrolled in the school and on their own waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46233/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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I want to thank the Deputy for the question and would like to advise the following:

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 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. My Department and the NCSE continue to work very closely in planning for the delivery of new places required to meet forecasted demand.

I am satisfied that this more joined up approach is delivering. Through this intensive intervention, we have seen 383 new special classes open, bringing the total of special classes to 2,535 opened nationwide for the 2022/23 school-year. The 383 new special classes for 2022/23 is broken down by 253 at primary and 130 at post primary.

In relation to the school specifically referenced by the Deputy, I am advised that there is ongoing engagement with and support for the school by the NCSE. The school currently has one ASD special class. In order to access this special class, students must have a professional report confirming that they have a disability in line with the special class’s designation and that their educational needs require the support of a special class. The school’s board of management is responsible for the admission procedures within it’s school. Where there are available special class placements, the NCSE notifies relevant parents who may then contact and apply to the school for enrolment.

I am also advised that NCSE is currently engaged with the school regarding the establishment of further special class provision at the school.

On an ongoing basis, NCSE also works with schools to build teacher capacity to support schools to meet the needs of all of the children enrolled. Members of the NCSE Advisory team have provided on-site support to teachers in this school over the course of the 2021/22 school year. NCSE has also recently contacted the school to arrange further training at the school’s request, and continued support will be available from NCSE as required.

The local SENO engages regularly with the school and families locally and remains available to the school to provide further advice and support.

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