Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Tuesday, 23 March 1999

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 502 No. 3

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  611.  Mr. R. Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin   if his attention has been drawn to the imminent closure of the Dyslexic Support Centre in Limerick; and the plans, if any, he has to intervene to prevent this in view of the impact on children and parents dependent on the service. [7895/99]

  615.  Ms Shortall  Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin   if his attention has been drawn to the severe difficulties which the Dyslexic Support Centre, Limerick, faces due to the loss of its premises at George's Quay; the assistance, if any, he will give to this very worthwhile organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7929/99]

  644.  Mr. Noonan  Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin   if his attention has been drawn to submissions made to his Department by an organisation (details supplied) in Limerick; the steps, if any, he is taking to resolve its accommodation problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8296/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  I propose to take Questions Nos. 611, 615 and 644 together.

I am aware of the issue raised by the Deputies.

My Department allocated £14,000 to the centre in question in 1998. However, as has been previously indicated to the centre, my Department is not in a position to make further funding available. To the extent that funding becomes available to support children with specific learning disabilities, the key focus will continue to be on school based services.

The educational needs of pupils with specific learning disability, including those with dyslexia, should generally be capable of being met within the ordinary school system, with the support, where appropriate, of the remedial teacher service.

Fully qualified primary school teachers are trained to deal with a variety of reading problems, including those which are accompanied by perceptual difficulties. The level and quality of this training is one of the important issues to be addressed by the review group on primary teacher training. In addition, the special training programme for remedial teachers includes a module on specific learning disability. At present, there are 1,302 remedial teacher posts in the primary system. I recently announced my intention to extend the remedial teacher service to all first [804] and second-level schools with effect from September, 1999.

Second level pupils with specific learning disability are normally integrated into ordinary classes where they may receive additional support through the remedial teacher, guidance counsellor and subject teachers.

Where more serious cases of difficulty arise, provision is made in one of four special schools and seven special classes dedicated to such children. These special facilities operate at a reduced pupil teacher ratio of 11:1.

In 1998 my Department allocated a sum of £38,111 to the Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities, ACLD, to assist its administration service and to facilitate access to workshops and summer schools for children from disadvantaged areas. In the current year an allocation of £50,000 is being made available to the ACLD.

I recently announced a major new development in special education services under which all primary school children with special educational needs will have an automatic right to a response to those needs. The response in question may take the form of additional teaching or child care support or both, depending on the specific needs of the child. Children with specific learning disability, including dyslexia, are entitled to benefit from this development.


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