Dáil Éireann - Volume 590 - 14 October, 2004

Written Answers - Special Educational Needs.

  134. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science when an appointment of a teacher and special needs assistant will be made at a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24924/04]

  136. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which a school (details supplied) in County Kildare can provide special resources for a number of children under the new system of qualification for special resources when it has not been allocated a teacher; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24926/04]

[791]   Ms Hanafin: I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 136 together.

The school referred to by the Deputy was advised of its teacher allocation under the new weighted system on 24 June 2004. The school has the services of one full-time shared resource teacher post and one full-time shared learning support teacher post.

An additional 350 teacher posts are being provided to facilitate the introduction of the new system. This system will involve a general weighted allocation for all primary schools to cater for pupils with higher incidence special educational needs, SEN, that is, those with borderline mild and mild general learning disability and specific learning disability, as well as those with learning support needs. In addition, it will continue to allow for individual allocations in respect of pupils with lower incidence SEN.

The weighted allocation will be made as follows. In the most disadvantaged schools, as per the urban dimension of the Giving Children an Even Break scheme, a teacher of pupils with special educational needs will be allocated for every 80 pupils to cater for the subset of pupils with higher incidence SEN; in all boy schools, the ratio will be one teacher for every 140 pupils; in mixed schools or all girl schools with an enrolment of greater than 30% boys, one for every 150 pupils; and in all girl schools, including schools with mixed junior classes but with 30% or less boys overall, one for every 200 pupils.

The weighted allocation will enable teaching support to be provided to pupils with higher incidence SEN and learning support needs. This will obviate the need for schools to submit individual applications for pupils in those categories. Schools may continue to apply for specific teacher allocations in respect of pupils with lower incidence SEN.

My Department now proposes to devise school clusters in respect of allocations to be made under the weighted model. Sanction for the filling of posts will be considered in the context of these clusters and the weighted arrangements. In order to facilitate the full introduction of the weighted model from the school year 2005-06, my Department has agreed not to redeploy surplus teachers from full-time posts via the panel redeployment process during the current school year. Schools have been informed, also, that they may retain excess part-time teaching hours to the extent that such hours are required for children with lower incidence SEN.

With regard to special needs assistant, SNA, support, the school referred to by the Deputy currently has the services of a full-time special needs assistant post. I can confirm that my Department received additional applications for SNA support. At present, my Department is considering the levels and deployment of SNA support in mainstream national schools generally and the application is being considered in this context. A [792] decision on the applications will be conveyed to the school as soon as this process has been completed.

  135. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of special resource teachers appointed for the proposed 350 placements; if all of the positions are not filled, the timetable for the completion of the appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24925/04]

  Ms Hanafin: My Department has allocated the equivalent of 345 additional resource teaching posts to the primary system. The allocation process is ongoing. Responsibility for the recruitment and appointment of resource teachers is a matter for individual school boards of management. The overall position will be determined as a result of panel redeployment arrangements which will take effect from the 2005-06 school year.

Question No. 136 answered with Question No. 134.