To the Minister for Education and Science
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which children with special needs continue to receive an adequate degree of services in view of the importance of ensuring that such children are given a reasonable chance in a very competitive climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of resources available to his Department to meet the educational requirements of children with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
-Bernard J. Durkan.
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he is satisfied regarding the adequacy of number of special needs teachers and special needs assistants available throughout the educational sector; and if he
will make a statement on the matter.
-Bernard J. Durkan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 21st January, 2014.Reference Number: 2909/14, 2910/14, 2917/14
I propose to take questions 268, 269 and 276 together.
The Deputy will be aware that this Government is committed to the protection of frontline services for pupils with special educational needs. The level of resources devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been maintained and increased for this school year.
The provision now includes 10,745 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), over 10,700 Learning Support and Resource Teachers, provision for over 740 Special Classes attached to mainstream schools at reduced pupil teacher ratios, enhanced capitation for special schools and special classes and provision for special transport arrangements and assistive technology support.
The policy of my Department is that children with special educational needs should be included in mainstream placements with additional supports provided. All schools and all school places are therefore available for children with special educational needs to be enrolled to. Supports will continue to be allocated to schools to support pupils with special educational needs.
In circumstances where children with special educational need require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are also available. 740 Special Classes are being provided for mainstream schools for the current school year. This includes 118 new special classes which have been opened this year.
The Deputy will be aware that the previous Government capped the number of SNA posts at 10,575 in December 2010. In December 2013, this Government agreed to
increase the cap on SNAs by 390, increasing by 170 posts to 10,745 at the end of 2013, and by a further 220 posts to 10,965 at the end of 2014. These additional posts provided will enable the National Council for Special
Education to continue to allocate support to children who need it in order that they may fully participate in and benefit from their education.
The Deputy will also be aware of my decision last June to authorise the NCSE to maintain the level of resource teaching allocations to be provided for students
with special educational needs for the current school year to the 2012/13 levels. This decision resulted in the subsequent allocation of an additional 455 posts in October to maintain resource teaching provision at the same levels as last year.
The level of investment being provided will ensure that provision can continue to be made to provide for the educational requirements of children with special
educational needs, enrolled in all schools, to ensure that children with special educational needs can continue to have access to educational facilities in line with their requirements.