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Written Answers - Special Educational Needs

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 171.  Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the position regarding the retention of the special class and the existing special needs assistant provision at a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16109/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department’s criteria in allocating such support, which now includes a requirement for them to have regard to an overall cap on the number of posts available.

The NCSE is responsible for the allocation of resource teaching hours and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs, as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas, as required, and the discontinuation of such classes where the need no longer exists.

I have therefore arranged for the Deputy’s question in relation to the continuation of a special class at a particular school to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

In relation to the allocation of SNAs, I wish to clarify for the Deputy that SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. SNA allocations are not permanent as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school or where a child’s care needs may have diminished over time. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

Schools have been invited to make applications to the NCSE for SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012. Schools will subsequently be advised by the NCSE of their allocation for the next school year, based on the number of valid applications received and the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

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