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Written Answers - School Placement

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 182.  Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the reason a person (details supplied) in County Meath is not being allowed to continue their dual school placement; the way they can appeal this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16187/12]

 229.  Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his formal policy on dual placement for children with autism between applied behaviour analysis schools and mainstream schools; if schools are allowed informal arrangements between themselves for these types of dual placements; the number of children with autism in each county that are currently in dual placements, in tabular form; the reasons that can be given for a child to be taken out of a dual placement and asked to attend only one school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16751/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 229 together.

The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

My Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs in order to ensure that, wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education. A specific function of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is to identify appropriate educational placements for all children with special educational needs, including children with autism.

My Department does not facilitate the dual enrolment of children. Children with special educational needs may transfer from special schools to special classes attached to ordinary primary school or to mainstream classes where they may attend on a fully integrated basis with teaching and special needs assistant supports, as appropriate. In considering such transfers, it would be important to have regard to the professionally assessed needs of the child involved and his or her capacity to function successfully in the more integrated setting. However, children with special educational needs in special schools or special classes can also attend mainstream classes on a part-time basis in line with their abilities and local arrangements made by the relevant boards of management. These arrangements are referred to locally as dual placements and are a regular feature of transitional plans for children who are transferring from one placement to another. However it’s important to differentiate between a dual placement and a dual enrolment.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this, the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they [771]should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) and Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS). The schools referred to by the Deputy operate in line with this policy.


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