Written Answers - Special Educational Needs.

Tuesday, 22 June 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 587 No. 5

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  150.  Mr. Haughey   Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   the role and functions of the National Council for Special Education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18345/04]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The National Council for Special Education is an independent statutory body set up to deliver what is, in many respects, a new service. In essence, the National Council for Special Education will operate under two main headings. On foot of research to be commissioned by the council, it will define models of appropriate educational response for categories of special need, and it will assist in the delivery at ground level on the needs of individual students, [1408]mainly through the deployment of a new grade of special education needs organisers, SENOs.

The objective in establishing the new council is to have clarity of entitlement, an accessible service at local level and speedy delivery. The council will define the most appropriate educational response for various categories of special need. This will involve drawing on research and international best practice. The establishment of the council should impact on equality by ensuring that special educational services are provided to a standard comparable to best international practice and through simplifying access to those services through the deployment of special education needs organisers.

The SENOs will be responsible for ensuring that all special educational needs in their areas are addressed in an effective manner. They will be charged with facilitating access to and co-ordinating education services for children with special needs in their areas by liasing between local providers of educational services, local providers of necessary ancillary services, the council, the Department and parents. In many cases provision will be based on individual education plans for the children involved.

The first council has been appointed and the inaugural meeting was held on 2 February last. The council will assume its direct service role in 2004 following the recruitment and training of the special education needs organisers.

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