Written Answers - Special Educational Needs.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 681 No. 4

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  634.  Deputy Billy Timmins  Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   the position of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if in view of the circumstances and the urgency of the necessary intervention at this stage the additional help will be sanctioned as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18049/09]

Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The General Allocation Model (GAM) was introduced in mainstream primary schools in September 2005. Based on each primary school’s enrolment, the GAM provided schools with additional learning support/resource teacher support to enable them to cater for children with high incidence special needs including dyslexia. The school referred to by the Deputy has one full time teaching post together with twenty two and half hours resource teaching support per week to cater for the special educational needs of the pupils enrolled.

It is a matter for the school authorities to determine how these hours are utilised to support eligible pupils with high incidence special education and learning support needs. Research shows that some pupils with learning needs will respond better with one-to-one tuition. Others, however, do better when taught in small groups. Often it is best for resource/learning support teachers to work with pupils in the classroom rather than taking them away to a separate room, as the pupils then have to catch up on work done by the rest of the class in their absence. My Department issued a comprehensive circular, SP ED 02/05 to schools which provides guidelines and advice on the manner in which they should use the resources that have been allocated to them to best effect.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs. In particular, its network of over 80 Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) co-ordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational services. They act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department’s criteria in allocating educational support.

Funding may be provided by my Department to schools for the purchase of specialised equipment such as computers to assist children with special educational needs, including children with dyslexia, with their education once relevant professionals recommend the equipment. Schools can apply to their SENO directly for this support. All schools have the names and contact details of their local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs). Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child’s special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

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