Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Priority Questions - Special Educational Needs

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 170 Next Page Last Page

 5.  Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  in view of the fact that parents at schools (details supplied) in County Wexford are to be reviewed again shortly by the National Council for Special Education, and this time, their right to appeal has been taken away from them, if the care needs of all individual children and their simultaneous need for significant special needs assistants support will be the guiding principle of the review or rather the amount of money his Department plans to allocate towards this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19689/12]

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The National Council for Special Education, NCSE, is responsible for allocating special needs assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department’s established criteria for the allocation of special education supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools, including these schools, were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012-13 school year by 16 March of this year. In considering applications for SNA support for the new school year, the NCSE will take into account the individual [79]care needs of all qualifying children, supports freed up due to any school leavers, and the identified care needs of newly enrolled children with special educational needs. Schools will be advised by the NCSE of their SNA allocation for the coming school year by June of this year.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I mentioned the appeal system in the question. I am led to understand from the main schools in Wexford concerned, Scoil Mhuire and St. Senan’s, that the appeal system seems to have been taken away from them. They are expecting their review soon and it seems a little unfair that they will not get an opportunity to appeal it if they find it unreasonable.

This issue has been debated since the Government was formed and the Minister has heard most of the arguments previously. A number of parents rung me to say that, with the cuts that have been implemented to date, some children are unable to participate in mainstream classes because there are not enough SNAs to go around. They would argue that they are not being treated as equal to their peers and they are not being given quite the same chance to reach their potential in life.

I would also mention the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs, EPSEN, Act 2004 with which I am sure the Minister is familiar. The parents argue that it would allow them to appeal to the National Council for Special Education. What is more, each child, under the EPSEN Act 2004, would have an individual education plan. Would the Minister outline the progress the Department has made to date on the commitment in the programme for Government to publish an updated implementation plan for the 2004 EPSEN Act?

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I have asked the NCSE to develop proposals to review the operation of the EPSEN Act 2004, particularly in the area of appeals. The programme for Government refers to the EPSEN Act 2004 but I am constrained in commissioning all of the provisions of that Act because of the current position on resources.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I will not argue that there is enough money to go around but, as the Minister will probably agree, those least fortunate and most in need of his help are probably deserving of a little more special attention. There is a scarcity of resources but the mark of the Government will be best judged by how it looks after those with most need. These parents and children have suffered considerably with the cuts over the past while and if there are more cuts coming down the tracks for them, it would be very unjust and unfair.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As Deputy Wallace may be aware, during my visit to Wexford town for the TUI conference, I had the opportunity to meet two of the parents. I spoke to them briefly and stated that I would keep the position of special needs assistants and the operation of the NCSE under review.


Last Updated: 04/04/2015 08:09:23 First Page Previous Page Page of 170 Next Page Last Page