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Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 122. Mr. Costello Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the provision which has been made for the appropriate second level education of children who are currently in special outreach classes, and for children with autism in mainstream primary schools when those children attain the appropriate age to leave primary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26878/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey My Department allocates resource posts, special needs assistant posts and concessionary teaching hours to second level schools and vocational education committees to cater for special needs pupils. Applications for such support are made to my Department by the relevant school authorities. Each case is considered on its merits.

I am taking steps to ensure that the necessary arrangements are put in place for an efficient and effective system for service delivery for special needs pupils. A key development in this regard has been the decision to establish the national council for special education. The council, which will have a local area presence, will play a key role in the development and delivery of services for persons with special needs. It will also have a research and advisory role and will establish expert groups to address particular areas of special needs provision. Such areas would include the question of the future role of the special school sector and how the reservoir of experience, expertise and commitment which the special school sector represents can be better utilised to support the special education system. Arrangements for the establishment of the council are now well advanced. A chief executive has recently been appointed to the council and it is intended that the council will be vested by the end of March 2003.

I also intend to bring forward legislation, based on the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill, to clarify the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities to an education service and to put in place the necessary framework to deliver the required services. My Department is currently consulting with interested parties on the proposed legislation. My objective is to secure the passage of this legislation through the Oireachtas before the summer recess.

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