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Written Answers - Special Educational Needs

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 76.  Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the position regarding the provision of a special needs assistant in respect of a child (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and in view of this child’s pressing need for assistance, if he will expedite a decision on same. [7297/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department’s criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. [138]The NCSE has now advised all mainstream schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school. The NCSE recently published statistical information on SNA allocations on a county by county and school by school basis on its website www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE has retained a number of SNA posts in order to allocate them over the remainder of the school year in respect of emergency cases, new diagnosis, or appeals by schools. Should a school seek to have their SNA provision reviewed or make a new application, they should contact the NCSE in this regard. It is expected that schools, before requesting any review of their SNA provision, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

 77.  Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if, in view of the recommendations made in the Children’s Rights Alliance report card 2012, he will develop a blueprint for delivering the vital services and supports for children with special educational needs by finally publishing and executing the plan to implement the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7313/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware that a number of sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act have already been commenced. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) made recommendations which suggested that additional investment over a period of years of up to €235m per annum, across the education and health sectors, would be required to fully implement the EPSEN Act. My Department’s opinion is that the level of investment required would be greater than that envisaged in the NCSE report.

In the light of the very difficult economic situation, and these significant costs, the previous Government deferred the full implementation of EPSEN. Given the costs involved and current fiscal constraints, addressing this issue will be very challenging. I will be considering how we can develop a plan to implement the objectives of the EPSEN Act so as to deliver improved educational outcomes for students with special needs.


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