Written answers

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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204. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the efforts being made by her Department to ensure a place in a reading school is available to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13381/24]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education is a priority for this government. It is also a key priority for me as Minister for Special Education & Inclusion, for my department and for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

It is my department’s policy, in accordance with the principles of inclusive education, that students with additional learning needs are supported in mainstream classes along with their peers, with additional supports provided as necessary.

My department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools, which have enrolled students with special educational needs in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, they will have access to an appropriate education.

My department has invested considerably in ensuring that all recognised mainstream schools have been allocated additional special education teaching resources to support them in providing optimal learning experiences for children with special educational needs, including students with a specific learning disability such as dyslexia.

Provision for students is governed by the continuum of support and a range of guidance documents, resources and training opportunities is available to schools to inform their approaches in meeting the needs of students with special educational needs. The most significant of these resources are the 14,500 special education teachers who are employed in schools to provide additional support for children with special educational needs, including dyslexia.

The allocation of special education teachers allows schools to provide additional teaching support for all students who require such support and for schools to deploy resources based on each student’s individual learning need.

The NCSE, through its network of local special educational needs organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports as required. The NCSE is aware of emerging need from year to year and where additional provision is required to support schools to meet the needs of children with special educational needs, it is planned and established to meet that need.

In addition, there are specialist educational supports provided by the National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS) and the NCSE to help schools provide an appropriate education for students with special educational needs.

Funding is also made available to schools for the purchase of specialised equipment such as computers and/or software to assist children with special educational needs, including children with a specific learning disability such as dyslexia. This is provided where relevant professionals recommend the equipment as being essential for the provision of education. Schools can apply to the NCSE, through their local SENO for such support.

It is important to note that all classroom teachers at primary level and subject teachers at post-primary level have responsibility for the progress of their students. Where necessary, additional support is provided by special education teachers. The majority of students with significant literacy difficulties currently receive additional teaching support from a special education teacher in a mainstream class. This is provided on the basis of the individual student’s learning need, identified in schools, as opposed to being based on a requirement for a child to have a diagnosis, or an assessment, of a particular disability. These supports are intended to provide students with the highest standard of education.

My department and the NCSE are committed to delivering an education system that is of the highest quality and where every child and young person feels valued and is actively supported and nurtured to reach their full potential.


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