Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 12 June, 2001

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

115. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the delay in putting arrangements in place for the additional four weeks schooling in July for special classes and facilities catering for children with autism; his views on whether the delay and uncertainty have caused considerable distress to the parents of such children; and if he will make a comprehensive statement outlining the detailed arrangements that have been put in place for teachers, classroom assistants, transport providers and the relevant school authorities. [17082/01]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The delay in finalising arrangements for putting the programme in question in place arose from the need to secure agreement on the support package, which will be made available to schools and school staff participating in the programme.

A special rate of remuneration is being made available to teachers and special needs assistants participating in the delivery of the July programmes. In addition, extra remuneration is being offered to principals of participating schools in respect of the preparatory work involved in developing July programmes. Schools participating in the programme will also receive a special rate of capitation funding in respect of participating children, amounting to 1.5 times the normal monthly capitation rate for children with autism. Funding is also available for transport arrangements for participating children.

Officials of my Department have already advised the INTO and the National Association of Boards of Management of the above arrangements. My Department will be in contact with all relevant schools in relation to this matter in the next few days.

I can fully appreciate the anxiety of parents who wish their children to participate in this valuable new development. I am confident that this extension of service through the month of July will to be of major benefit to the children in question.