Written answers

Thursday, 16 May 2024

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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178. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students offered a new ASD primary school place in south Roscommon for September 2024; the number of new places available for September 2024; the schools with availability; the number of places available; the specific steps she is taking to address the annual difficulty in sourcing primary school ASD places in south Roscommon; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22242/24]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, 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 my department and for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

The vast majority of children with special educational needs are supported to attend mainstream classes with their peers. Where children with more complex needs require additional supports, special classes and special school places are provided.

Almost 300 new special classes have been sanctioned by the NCSE nationwide for the 2024/25 school year, of these 3 are in County Roscommon. The majority of these classes are autism classes and have a teacher/student ratio of 1:6. The NCSE advise my department that a number of additional special classes are being confirmed and finalised both in South Roscommon and in Athlone and this should meet the need for special class places for children known to the NCSE for the coming school year.

My department engages intensely with the NCSE in relation to the forward planning of new special classes and additional special school places. This forward planning work is well underway ahead of the 2024/25 school year. This work involves a detailed review of statistical data in relation to forecasting demand for special class places, an analysis of available school accommodation, consideration of improved data sharing arrangements and a particular focus on the provision of special classes at post-primary level.

As a result of this forward planning almost 300 new special classes have been sanctioned by the NCSE nationwide for the 2024/2025 school year. The NCSE continue to sanction classes for the 2024/2025 school year and a list of the location of new classes will be confirmed shortly.

Parent seeking special class placements for their children are advised to contact the NCSE locally so that their needs can be taken into account for planning purposes. Local special educational needs organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise the parents of children with special educational needs. Parent may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available on the NCSE's website.

My department and the NCSE are committed to ensuring that sufficient special education placements will be available for children for this school year and future years.


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