Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 24 April, 2008

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if in determining the number of special needs assistants to a school under the general allocation model, her Department makes such a determination based on enrolment numbers within that school going back to 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15770/08]

  Deputy Mary Hanafin:I understand that the Deputy is referring to the general allocation system of learning support/resource teachers that was implemented in mainstream primary schools in September 2005.

The system provides teaching resources to schools to enable them to cater for children with high-incidence special education needs such as borderline mild general learning disability and mild general learning disability and specific learning disability. The allocation is also intended to support those with learning support needs, that is, those functioning at or below the tenth percentile on a standardised test of reading and/or mathematics. In circumstances where a child has low incidence needs, this automatically attracts an individual resource teaching allocation.

The allocation system under the general allocation model was linked to the school’s enrolment and it was decided not to review this aspect until the model had been in operation for three years. This review is now underway. The allocation to schools was however enhanced in the case of schools experiencing large increases in enrolment and which satisfied the conditions under my Department’s Developing School Criteria. Special Needs Assistant support in schools is intended to address the care needs of pupils with special educational needs. Decisions regarding the extent of such support in each particular case are based on the care needs of the individual child.