Dáil Éireann - Volume 605 - 28 June, 2005
Written Answers - Special Educational Needs.
Mr. Stagg Mr. Stagg
676. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the inordinate delay in providing funding for staff and equipment for the special classes built at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if the staffing and equipment restraints will be removed in order that the facility can function as intended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22105/05]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
750. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if a school (details supplied) in Celbridge, County Kildare is fully staffed to meet the requirements of its double autistic unit; when same is likely to be up and running in view of the fact that this unit was completed over two years and has not yet opened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22717/05]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:I propose to take Questions Nos. 676 and 750 together.
It is proposed that a double autism unit will be established at the school in question. In this regard, appropriate classroom accommodation has been provided in the school for this purpose.
My officials have been liaising with the school authorities for some time on the resources to be made available to facilitate the operation of the classes. My Department has confirmed that the classes will be capable of catering for up to 12 pupils with autism at a pupil teacher ratio of 6:1. In addition, two full-time special needs assistants will be allocated to each class. Additional SNAs for the classes may be considered on the basis of  the individual assessed needs of the pupils enrolled.
The school authorities submitted a request for resources over and above those which are generally provided for schools when establishing such classes to my Department. A number of meetings have taken place between the school and officials from my Department with a view to resolving the issues that have been raised by the school. The latest of these meetings took place on 2 June when three officials from my Department met the school’s board of management. At that meeting it was agreed that the board would consider the issues that had been discussed and send its views in writing on those issues to the Department. My Department is awaiting that submission and on receipt of it will give this matter urgent consideration.
The Department is extremely anxious that this purpose-built facility for children with autism would become operational as soon as possible and it is hoped that the issues that have been raised by the school can be resolved in the near future.
Mr. Timmins Mr. Timmins
677. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if the decision will be re-examined with a view to allocating full time special needs assistants to the pupils who need them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22115/05]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:Special needs assistants are assigned to schools to meet the care needs of individual children who have been assessed by a psychologist as needing this type of support. Applications for SNA support are now dealt with by the National Council for Special Education which processes all applications for support from schools and communicates the decisions directly to the schools. At this stage, the council has dealt with all new applications from schools for SNAs that will be required from the beginning of September 2005.
The pupil in question is in receipt of full-time SNA support and I understand that another pupil with special care needs will be enrolling in the same class next September. The existing SNA support in the class will be shared between both pupils. This arrangement will be kept under review by the local special educational needs organiser.
The Government has put in place an unprecedented level of support for children with special needs. Since 1998, the number of SNAs has increased from under 300 to 6,300 nationally. In addition, more effective systems such as the establishment of the National Council for Special Education have been put in place to ensure that children get support as early as possible.
Dáil Éireann 605 Written Answers Special Educational Needs.