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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 163-180
 Header Item Superannuation Schemes
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item State Examinations Data
 Header Item Schools Data
 Header Item National Educational Psychological Service Data
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Skills Development
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Administration
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 900 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 67 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 163-180

Superannuation Schemes

 163. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if a special needs assistant employed since 2001 must retire on age grounds at 65 years of age; if there are exemptions to this regulation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44285/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan In accordance with the Superannuation scheme a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) who is not "a new entrant" under the terms of the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004, must retire at the end of the school year in which he/she reaches age 65.

  The abolition of the compulsory retirement age under the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 applies to new entrants only. The retirement provisions, which apply to public servants (including SNAs) who are not new entrants, are not affected by the Act.

  Therefore a Special Needs Assistant employed prior to the Act is not a new entrant and must retire at the end of the school year in which he/she reaches the age of 65.

Schools Building Projects Status

 164. Deputy Shane Ross Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the status of the new post-primary schools proposed for the Stepaside and Kilternan areas in Dublin 18, including their locations; if they will both be open from their scheduled date in September 2016 at these locations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44289/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I wish to advise the Deputy that a suitable permanent site for a new post primary school to serve the Ballinteer/Stepaside area has been identified and the acquisition process is underway.

Given the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further details at this time. I can, however, assure the Deputy that the acquisition of a new site for the school is a priority for my Department and that the patron body, Educate Together, will be informed of the location for the school as soon as it is possible to do so.

Officials from my Department have been in contact, and will continue to liaise, with Educate Together in relation to arrangements for temporary accommodation to facilitate the school opening in September 2016.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

 165. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the steps she will take to have an application for a higher education grant by a person (details supplied) in County Cork dealt with given the time delay to attach supporting documentation to the grant application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44323/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.

  This service compliments the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

  Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

  If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 166. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision for a special needs assistant; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44324/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating 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, which is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.

All schools were asked to apply for SNA support for the 2015/16 school year by 18th March 2015. The NCSE has also continued to accept applications after this date in recognition that enrolments may not have been completed or where assessments were not completed.

The NCSE has now published details of SNA allocations for schools for September 2015 on its website at www.ncse.ie.

Once allocated, the deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

Details of the manner in which a school or parent may appeal the level of SNA or resource teaching allocation which has been made to support a child in school, to the NCSE, is set out on the NCSE website.

All schools have the contact details of their local SENO, while Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available the NCSE website.

As this question relates to an allocation for an individual child, I will arrange to have the matter referred to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects Status

 167. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan her plans for the proposed secondary level school in Kingswood Heights in Tallaght in Dublin 24; if she will confirm the catchment area for the school; the priority that will be given to families in Kingswood Heights and Kilnamanagh in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44325/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The school to which the Deputy refers will open in September 2016 to meet the demographic needs of the Tallaght area, including the areas referred to by the Deputy. While school authorities are responsible for their school's enrolment policy, as new schools are being established to meet the needs of a defined geographic area, enrolment policies are expected to be consistent with the criteria under which each school is being established.

Schools Building Projects Status

 168. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the actions she is taking on the planning conditions for the proposed secondary level school in Kingswood Heights in Tallaght in Dublin 24 regarding the request for details of the enhanced drop-off facilities at the school, and her response to the condition that the developer is required to provide a pedestrian crossing on the public road serving the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44326/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The School Building Project to which the Deputy refers has recently been granted planning permission by the Planning Authority.

Following the grant of planning permission, revised design options have been explored to satisfy the requirements for enhanced drop off and a pedestrian crossing as requested by the Local Authority. A preferred option has been developed for an enhanced drop off area within the site. The access to this is independent of the access to the main parking area. A pedestrian crossing has also been added to the design at the main pedestrian entrance to the school on Ballymount Road.

The layout for both of these have been submitted to the relevant Council planning department for comment prior to final approval.

Schools Building Projects Status

 169. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the status of a proposed school building (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44329/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The major building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning – Stage 2b. This stage includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of Tender Documents.

  As the Deputy is aware on Tuesday 17th November 2015 I announced details of the major school building projects where construction is expected to commence over the next 6 years. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the project to which she refers is included in this plan. Information in respect of all projects on this 6 year plan is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

 170. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will expedite an appeal under the Student Universal Support Ireland grant scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry, as all relevant information has been submitted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44336/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.

  This service compliments the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

  Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

  If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 171. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan why a person (details supplied) in County Dublin is losing an entitlement to a special needs assistant; if she will reinstate the person's special needs assistance hours; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44341/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are allocated to Special Schools and to mainstream Primary and Post Primary schools to assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website www.education.ie, sets out my Department's policy in relation to the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme. The Circular explains that SNA support is not provided to pre-school services which operate outside of the primary or special school provision.

I can advise the Deputy however that the vast majority of supports for childcare, including pre-school education, is provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The principal vehicle for the delivery of pre-school education is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which was introduced in January 2010 and provides for early learning in a formal setting to children in the year before they commence primary school.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) currently provides for care support for pupils with special needs attending a range of HSE funded pre-schools. As such, questions relating to provision of such services should be addressed to the HSE, or to my colleague, the Minister for Health.

State Examinations Data

 172. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the latest data from the State Examinations Commission and her Department on the percentage of school leavers from all 192 secondary level schools with DEIS status who sat the leaving certificate, and the percentage of these who went on to third level education, further education and to do an apprenticeship by name and location of school. [44342/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

  However, SEC does not identify candidates by category of schools. The SEC would not identify DEIS schools within their system. Neither does the SEC retain details of what candidates do after they complete their Leaving Certificate examination. This is not, nor has it ever been, a function of the SEC.

  All that the SEC can provide is a list of all second level schools and the number of candidates from each school that sat the Leaving Certificate in each year.

Schools Data

 173. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan further to Parliamentary Question No. 500 of 1 December 2015, the number of primary schools, by county, by ethos and denomination, in tabular form. [44350/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The information requested by the Deputy is available in the following table.

Number of primary schools in each county and a breakdown by their ethos/denomination

CountyCatholicChurch of IrelandInter-DenominationalMulti-DenominationalPresbyterianMuslimJewishMethodistQuakerTotal
Carlow383 1     42
Cavan6510 1     76
Clare1091 3     113
Cork31620 8     344
Donegal14022319    175
Dublin355333462211 443
Galway2212 6     229
Kerry1312 1     134
Kildare87617     101
Kilkenny702 1     73
Laois57711     66
Leitrim363       39
Limerick1343 2     139
Longford353       38
Louth652 31    71
Mayo1632 1     166
Meath103425     114
Monaghan545  3    62
Offaly613 1     65
Roscommon892       91
Sligo614 1     66
Tipperary1526       158
Waterford683 2    174
Westmeath67411     73
Wexford94612     103
Wicklow581744     83
Total282917516981521113138

National Educational Psychological Service Data

 174. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the number of children waiting to be assessed by the National Educational Psychological Service by geographical area and by time waiting. [44387/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I can inform the Deputy that my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychology service to all primary and post primary schools through an assigned NEPS psychologist and in some cases through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

NEPS does not keep waiting lists for assessments of children but in common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS has adopted a consultative model of service. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring. Psychologists use a problem solving and solution oriented consultative approach to maximise positive outcomes for these pupils. NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention. This system allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 175. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will improve pupil-teacher ratios at primary and second level schools over the next twelve months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44402/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Teacher allocations to all schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The criteria for the allocation of posts are communicated to school managements annually and are available on the Department website.

The Deputy will be aware that I have made provision in Budget 2016 for some 2,260 additional teaching posts for our primary and post primary schools next year. These posts will provide for an improvement in the staffing schedules at primary and post primary levels, enhance the leadership and management roles of deputy principals at post-primary level by reducing their teaching time, an improvement to the scheme of release time for principal teachers at primary level and additional resource posts to meet special education needs.

At primary level there will be a one point improvement to the primary staffing schedule to be implemented for the 2016/17 school year. This will see the primary staffing schedule operate on the basis of a general average of 1 classroom teacher for every 27 pupils. At primary level lower thresholds apply for DEIS Band 1 schools.

At post-primary level the schedule will improve by .3 points, from 19:1 to 18.7:1 for the 2016/17 school year.

When the allocation for guidance was brought within quota under Budget 2012 measures, DEIS schools were protected from the change by providing for a 18.25:1 allocation compared to the general 19:1 allocation. The position of DEIS schools will be further enhanced by a change to an allocation on the basis of 17.95:1.

Skills Development

 176. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if the education system, at all levels, will meet the skills demand in the workplace; if apprenticeships will impact on the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44403/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department has a number of strategies and initiatives in place to ensure that education and training meets the skills requirements of the workplace. SOLAS, with the assistance of relevant experts such as the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), employers and local and national organisations, have published a five year strategy for the further education and training sector which provides us with a strategic roadmap for this crucial element of the education and training system. The strategy includes a vision of a flexible, quality-driven, labour market-relevant, integrated and responsive sector that supports learner progression, transitions into employment and personal development. The higher education system is also going through a process of transformation through structural change arising from the Higher Education Strategy.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), which is funded by my Department, advises the Government on current and future skills needs of the economy. It has a central role in ensuring that labour market needs for skilled workers are anticipated and met. The expert group's membership is broad and specifically includes representation from enterprise. Its research provides an input to the development of course curricula and informs the selection of new targeted programmes designed to tackle the skills shortages in particular elements of the economy, such as Momentum, Springboard and the ICT skills conversion programme.

As part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015, my Department has committed to review the National Skills Strategy. The review will provide an opportunity to determine the volume, type and mix of skills required to meet the Government's goal of full employment by 2018 and the challenges to be addressed to achieve this.

Direct engagement between employers and education and training providers is also critical to ensuring that programmes are aligned to changing skills needs. As well as the actions that are being implemented across the education and training system as part of the Further Education and Training and Higher Education reform programmes to enhance links with enterprise and prepare learners for the different roles they will have over their working lives, work is also underway in the context of the Skills Strategy review to develop the regional and national infrastructure for engagement between education providers, employers and other enterprise stakeholders, in communicating and addressing skills needs. My Department is leading a project to establish a network of regional skills fora to foster better engagement between the public education and training system, employers and other regional stakeholders so as to identify and address the skills needs of each region.

Apprenticeship has a major contribution to make to meeting the skills demands of the workplace. In apprenticeship, employers are engaged in the definition of occupational profiles, contribute to curriculum development and ensure the required skills are developed on the job. The expansion of the apprenticeship system is one of my key priorities and I am encouraged by the increase in apprenticeship registrations in existing trades and the progress being made in introducing new apprenticeships, focusing initially on the 25 priority proposals identified by the Apprenticeship Council through their public call.

Schools Building Projects Administration

 177. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she is satisfied with the adequacy of the school building programme and, in particular, with the completion of the replacement of temporary or prefabricated classrooms; if she will meet the requirements projected by the various school authorities for special needs teachers in the coming year at primary and at second level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44404/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As the Deputy is aware, I announced details on 17th November last, of the major school building projects that are scheduled to proceed to construction over the next six years, as part of the Government's €2.8 billion capital investment programme. The intention also, is to replace all purchased prefabs with permanent accommodation over the lifetime of the programme. This investment programme is about looking to the future and ensuring that our school infrastructure is well prepared to accommodate our growing school population.

Information in respect of all schools included in the Six Year Programme is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs.

This responsibility includes planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs including the allocation of Resource Teaching and Special Needs Assistant support as well as the establishment of special classes and staffing allocations for special schools in various geographical areas as required.

The NCSE has allocated 6,832 Resource teaching posts to mainstream schools this year, which is an increase of 29% since 2011, which means there are over 11,500 Resource and Learning Support Teachers in place this year.

11,940 SNAs are available for allocation to primary and secondary schools, which is an increase of 13% in the number of posts available since 2011.

In addition, over 150 new Special Classes have been opened for the 2015/16 school year, which means there are now over 1,000 special classes in place.

I welcome the fact, that even in the constrained economic circumstances we have faced in recent years, we have been able to continue to meet the needs of children with special educational needs attending our schools and to increase provision to address emerging needs in this area.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if adequate resources are in place to meet the teaching and accommodation requirements of children with Asperger's syndrome and autism at primary and secondary level, if she has identified the areas of great demand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44405/15]

 179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if adequate resources are in place to meet the teaching and accommodation requirements of children with Asperger's syndrome and autism at primary and secondary level school throughout County Kildare, if she has identified the areas of great demand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44406/15]

 180. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if the number of autism classes throughout County Kildare will increase in line with demand in the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44407/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 to 180, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware my Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Asperger's Syndrome, in order to ensure that, wherever a child is enrolled, they will have access to an appropriate education.

Children with ASD may be enrolled in a mainstream school and can attend all mainstream classes. In such cases these children will receive additional teaching support through the learning support and/or the resource teacher and, where appropriate, will receive access to Special Needs Assistance and assistive technology if required.

In respect of children with ASD who cannot be accommodated in mainstream education, they may be enrolled in special classes or special schools where more intensive and supportive interventions are provided.

Progress in developing this network has been significant and in addition to the special school placements there are over 1,000 special classes throughout the country at primary and post primary level. The number of special classes at post primary level has risen by approximately 70 classes in the last 3 years.

The NCSE have advised that there are 56 ASD classes in Co. Kildare. 5 of these are Early Intervention classes for children with ASD who are not yet school going age, 40 ASD classes are at primary school level and there are 11 ASD classes at post primary level. A full list of special classes is available at www.ncse.ie.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has recently submitted their Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In developing this policy advice, the NCSE has consulted widely with parents, professionals and other stakeholders and interested parties while also conducting research. The policy advice is currently under consideration in my Department.

My officials will consider and report to me on any recommendations in the report which relate to the issues raised by the Deputy.


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