Dáil Éireann - Volume 580 - 17 February, 2004

Written Answers - Schools Recognition.

  275. Mr. English asked the Minister for Education and Science if, following the enormous success of the CABAS school in Drogheda, he will fast track the decision to put this school and others like it into mainstream funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4526/04]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: I assure the Deputy that my Department intends to take a measured approach to considering the future of the three CABAS facilities in Dublin, Cork and Drogheda. My approach will be to ensure continuity of provision for the pupils in question. My Department appreciates the concerns of parents for greater certainty and, in this regard, I wish to confirm that my Department is prepared to continue to provide funding for three CABAS facilities for the next school year 2004-05. My Department will in due course consider the reports of the inspectorate on autism specific provisions and any issues arising therefrom will be raised directly with the relevant managements.

  276. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department will immediately sanction funding for the CABAS south Dublin project in Shankill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4527/04]

  282. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science when he expects to make a decision on the application for a CABAS school in south Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4609/04]

  335. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if the submission from CABAS, south Dublin, for a school to cater for children with autism will be expedited; and the timescale for the provision of same. [5092/04]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: I propose to take Questions Nos. 276, 282 and 335 together.

I am most anxious that all children, including children with autistic spectrum disorders, receive education appropriate to their needs. There are seven facilities in the State operating on a pilot-project basis and using alternative educational methods for teaching children on the autistic spectrum. Three of the seven are CABAS facilities, whose teaching method involves a comprehensive application of behaviour analysis to schooling approach.

A decision regarding the retention of these establishments will be made in light of an evaluation of provision for children with an autistic spectrum disorder carried out by my Department's Inspectorate. It is envisaged that the outcome of the evaluation will be determined [324] and a decision taken on the future of the facilities during the course of the current school year.

My Department is actively considering applications from CABAS, Dublin, for autistic provision in south County Dublin. My officials are liaising with my Department's inspectorate and the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, in this regard. A response will issue to the applicants as quickly as possible.