Dáil Éireann - Volume 681 - 28 April, 2009
Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.
Deputy Shane McEntee Deputy Shane McEntee
Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Education and Science the additional funding available to second level schools to facilitate students with dyslexia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16199/09]
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe Deputy Batt O’Keeffe
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: As the Deputy may be aware, a key focus and priority of my Department is to provide for resources in schools to support pupils with special educational needs, including those with dyslexia. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers to schools to support children with special educational needs.
Second level pupils with dyslexia are normally integrated into mainstream classes. In such situations they may receive additional support from the remedial/learning support teacher, guidance counsellor and individual subject teachers. All second level schools in the free education/block grant schemes have an entitlement to an ex-quota teacher allocation in respect of remedial/learning support teaching and guidance provision.
With regard to the provision of additional resource teaching hours, the general position is that where a pupil with special educational needs is enrolled in a post primary school, it is open to the school to apply to the local SENO for additional teaching support and/or special needs assistant support. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child’s special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.
The SENO will process the relevant application for additional support including, where appropriate, applications for children with Dyslexia, and inform the school of the outcome. To qualify for additional individual resource teaching hours under this category, children must be assessed as being of average intelligence or higher and having a degree of learning disability  specific to basic skills in reading, writing or mathematics which places them at or below the 2nd percentile on suitable, standardised, norm referenced tests.
The criteria for allocation of individual resource hours identify those pupils whose dyslexia is likely to have a significant impact on their learning. Children who do not meet these criteria and who, in the opinion of the psychologist, have a specific learning disability such as dyslexia can have appropriate interventions put in place by the remedial/learning support teacher and/or the class teacher. As outlined above, these teachers are provided to all second level schools and the Department is satisfied that schools have the capacity to address the educational needs of pupils in such circumstances.
My Department also provides funding to schools for the purchase of specialised equipment such as computers to assist children with special educational needs, including children with dyslexia, with their education once relevant professionals recommend the equipment. Schools can apply to the local SENO directly for this support.
My Department also supports teachers with additional training needs in the area of dyslexia. The Special Education Support Service (SESS) manages, co-ordinates and develops a range of supports in response to identified teacher training needs. The SESS provides fees’ subsidies for the online training course, “Dyslexia: Identification and Early Interventions”. Fees’ subsidies are also provided for teachers to enable them to avail of the Dyslexia Association of Ireland courses.
Dáil Éireann 681 Written Answers. Special Educational Needs.