Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 06 July, 2006

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if additional finance which will be required by schools is the reason for her delay in commencing the relevant sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 in relation to the provision of a mandatory education plan for each pupil with special educational needs. [27395/06]

  Ms Hanafin: I can assure the Deputy that the matter of finance is not the reason why the relevant sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 relating to Individual Education Plans (IEPs) have not yet commenced.

While many sections of the Act have already commenced, the remaining sections cannot come into effect without the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) having an opportunity [1778] to present an implementation report to my Department, which it must do by October 2006. This plan will enable me to decide on the commencement of the remaining sections of the Act, including the sections related to IEPs.

As provided for in the EPSEN Act, an education plan for each individual pupil with special educational needs will become mandatory when the relevant sections of the Act are commenced. In preparation for this, the NCSE has drawn up guidelines on the IEP process and these guidelines were published on 20th June last. The guidelines present a checklist of the essential elements required for an IEP for a child with special education needs as envisaged by the EPSEN Act 2004.

These guidelines will provide advice and assistance to schools, teachers and parents on devising and implementing IEPs. It is expected that schools will use these guidelines to draw up school policies and procedures in relation to IEPs in advance of the mandatory requirement for them.