Dáil Éireann - Volume 599 - 09 March, 2005

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

  71. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science her proposals to increase the number of special needs teachers in all primary and second level schools throughout the country in line with actual requirements and in accordance with best practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7992/05]

[752]   Ms Hanafin:Every effort is made to ensure that children with special educational needs receive an education appropriate to their needs and in recent years significant additional resources have been made available to schools to enable them to provide for children with such needs.

In this regard, the following dedicated resources are now deployed to support children with special educational needs in the primary system: more than 2,600 resource teachers; more than 1,500 learning support teachers; more than 1,000 teachers in special schools; more than 600 teachers in special classes; nearly 6,000 special needs assistants; more than €30 million on school transport for special needs pupils; more than €3 million towards specialised equipment and materials.

In addition, the level of resources being made available by my Department to support students with special educational needs in the second level system has also grown significantly in recent years. In the current school year to date, my Department has allocated approximately 1,387 whole-time equivalent teachers and approximately 628 special needs assistants to second level schools and VECs to cater for the special educational needs of students at second level. The establishment of the National Council for Special Education is a further major step in ensuring that the requirements of children with special educational needs are identified and the necessary resources put in place in a timely and effective manner.

The issue of providing adequate resources to meet the needs of children with special educational needs will continue to be a priority for me. In this regard, my Department is continuing to take steps to develop the network of special educational provision for children with special needs and I believe that the steps taken in recent years and those currently in hand represent significant progress in the development of those services.

Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 53.