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Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 244. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Michael Woods Zoom on Michael Woods  the training which is available for special needs assistants; if such assistants are required to be trained; the plans his Department have to commence training of special needs assistants. [10425/02]

 246. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Michael Woods Zoom on Michael Woods  if he will direct that special needs assistants be allowed to access training centres throughout the country for training purposes or other such uses. [10427/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Information on Michael Woods Zoom on Michael Woods I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 246 together.

A national training programme for special needs assistants is in the process of being designed. It is envisaged that this programme will commence on a pilot basis in the coming school year. The in-career development unit – ICDU – of my Department has requested Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and St. Angela's Training College, Sligo, to undertake this work.

The design process has already begun. Mary Immaculate College has organised two training courses for special needs assistants. Further courses are planned in the near future. These courses form part of the design process and will inform and help shape the development of the training programme for special needs assistants.

In the meantime, and pending the introduction of a national programme of in-career development, the unit is funding as an exceptional matter, the course fee for special needs assistants attending training which is currently being offered by a private training school. The unit also [890] considers applications for funding from schools for courses on an individual basis.

The location of venues for training purposes is a matter for the course organisers, having regard to suitability and availability. To date, special needs assistants have attended courses arranged in various venues including teacher training colleges and education centres.

 245. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Michael Woods Zoom on Michael Woods  if he will consider paying part-time special needs assistants for the summer months as these people are specially trained and are vitally needed; and the amount this would cost. [10426/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Information on Michael Woods Zoom on Michael Woods Part-time special needs assistants are contracted to deliver a specified number of hours service per week in the schools in which they are employed and are paid accordingly. The duration of the service provided is based on the professionally assessed needs of the individual children in respect of whom the special needs assistant support is allocated.

Special needs assistants employed on a part-time basis are paid at an hourly rate. Under current legislation 8% of total earnings is paid to each part-time special needs assistant in respect of holiday pay. At present, a total of 568 special needs assistants are employed on a part-time basis in the primary sector.

I am very much aware of the vital role which special needs assistants play in the special education system. My Department has no plans at present to pay part-time special needs assistants through the summer months.

Question No. 246 answered with Question No. 244.


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