Dáil Éireann - Volume 547 - 31 January, 2002

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

  188. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of places for special needs pupils in special schools in the Dublin area; the average number of pupils requiring placement; if he has satisfied himself that the required needs are being met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3075/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The enrolment policy of each special school is a matter for the board of management. My Department does not have information on the number of pupils awaiting special school placement.

  Special schools are established in central locations in response to the level of need [1062] presenting in the general area. I am generally satisfied with the overall capacity of the special schools in the area referred to by the Deputy. My Department will sanction additional teaching and/or special needs assistant support when requested by special schools to accommodate increasing numbers.

  The Deputy will be aware that a major new initiative was announced in November 1998 in the area of special education under which all children assessed as having special educational needs would in future be entitled to an automatic response to those needs. The measures involved are aimed at ensuring that all children with special educational needs, irrespective of their location or disability, will receive the support they require to participate fully in education.

  The key measures of this initiative includes the introduction of a formalised system of special teaching and special needs assistant support for all children attending school on a fully integrated basis who have been assessed as having special educational needs. It is necessary to view each pupil's special needs on an individual basis. For some children the nature of the special need may be such that the child can perform quite successfully in an integrated setting with the support, where necessary, of a remedial or resource teacher. Where more serious difficulties arise, provision is made in special schools or special classes dedicated to these children.

  Where special needs are concerned, flexibility of response is essential. Every case needs to be assessed on its individual merit. The level and type of response will reflect the special need involved.