Dáil Éireann - Volume 500 - 18 February, 1999

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

[1432] 129. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the work of a person (details supplied) in New Zealand who has assessed the effectiveness of withdrawing children from class to attend remedial teachers; if his attention has further been drawn to the widely held view outside Ireland that in-class resources and continuos assessment are critical to tackle educational disadvantage among children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4716/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I am aware of the work of Marie Clay in the reading recovery programme in New Zealand. The programme has made successful interventions with young children of about six years of age on an individual basis. The programme is intensive and expensive.

I am also aware of research findings on the issue of appropriate preventative and support interventions in the education of children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. My Department has initiated a range of supports for these children that include personnel, financial and curricular supports for schools and classes.

Financial supports include enhanced capitation for teaching and learning materials for designated schools, grants for teaching and learning materials for schools in the breaking the cycle project, grants for start-up equipment in early start centres and annual top-ups. My Department also provides grants for parental development so that parents can become involved in supporting their children's education generally and become involved as classroom supports in schools in the liaison scheme.

Ex-quota teacher provision includes concessionary posts in many designated schools, remedial teachers, co-ordinators in groups of schools in the rural dimension of breaking the cycle, a 15:1 pupil-teacher ratio in junior classes in urban schools in breaking the cycle, support teachers and early start teachers and child care workers.

Curricular provision for children from disadvantaged backgrounds is catered for in the inherent flexibility in the primary school curriculum which makes it amenable to a differentiated delivery to suit the needs of individuals and groups. Differentiation at second level is being addressed through changes in the junior and senior certificate provision and in the transition year programme.

I am very aware that formal and informal assessment is a regular component of day-to-day activity in classrooms. In this way pupils' attainment is assessed and their needs are identified so that they can be met in appropriate ways.