Thursday, 14 May 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
163. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when he expects to meet in full the requirement in respect of special needs teachers and assistants in all schools here with particular reference to speech and language therapy requirements, remedial, resource or other special needs; the optimum number of positions waiting to be filled in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19499/09]
180. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which he proposes to meet in full remedial, resource, special needs teachers and classroom assistants in respect of the various schools here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19518/09]
I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no difficulty with the allocation of additional resource teaching and/or special needs assistant posts at present. Schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs that are eligible for such support apply to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for the allocation of the necessary resources. The Special Educational Needs Officers (SENOs) of the NCSE assess such applications in the context of the resources already available in the school. Where there is a need for additionality, in accordance with my Department’s circulars, the SENO authorises additional posts.
The Deputy will be aware that the Health Service Executive (HSE) provides speech and language therapy services. It is intended that a proportion of the additional €10m provided to the health service this year will target the speech and language therapy needs of children attending school. There are currently 62 special classes in place to support children with specific speech and language disorder. Each class can cater for up to 7 children and children have access to a speech and language therapist through the HSE.
I want to take this opportunity to emphasise that priority will continue to be given to provision for children with special educational needs. Significant progress has been achieved in recent years, which has seen a huge increase in resources for pupil’s with special educational needs. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers. Along with all other areas of expenditure, provision is dependent on the resources available to the Government.
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