Dáil Éireann - Volume 479 - 13 May, 1997

Written Answers. - Special Education Needs.

206. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education if she was quoted correctly in a recent statement to parents of disabled children that if one chooses mainstream schooling for children, one must take what one finds, warts and all; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12645/97]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I have no recollection of the statement to which [398] the Deputy refers. However, I can assure the Deputy that such sentiments do not in any way reflect my views on services for children with disabilities attending mainstream schools.

Indeed, I am satisfied that since my appointment as Minister for Education I have achieved unprecedented improvements in the level of support services available to children with disabilities attending mainstream schools.

Since my appointment as Minister for Education, I have to date allocated 241 remedial teacher posts and 39 resource teacher posts to primary schools, bringing the total in the system to 1,188 and 46 respectively. I am, in addition, currently considering the allocation of further remedial and resource teacher posts to primary schools.

In addition, the White Paper on Education, Charting our Education Future, sets out the Government's policy for the provision of suitable education services for pupils with a disability, in either special educational facilities or in an integrated environment.

The fundamental objective of the commitment in the White Paper is to ensure to the maximum possible extent that all children with disabilities will have access to suitably resourced education services in their own area and within the ordinary school system.

While the degree to which integration can be achieved will depend on the specific and evolving capacities of the individual children, the measures set down in the White Paper will maximise that possibility.

I am satisfied that the measures which I have already taken and those which are now being pursued provide concrete evidence of my commitment to children with disabilities wishing to attend mainstream schools.