Mick Wallace Would be good if #mainstreammedia held #FiannaFail + #FineGael to account for voting for a terrible #CAP that aband… https://t.co/RFUXVmKnea
Mick Wallace The #EU needs to do more to stop the Collective Punishment of the people of #Tigray - This is a form of Genocide b… https://t.co/G5c6hiCa2q
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: The lack of concern shown by the #EU for the people of #Venezuela has been shocking and says much about their so called 'E…
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: #EU says they're interested in Dialogue - So why don't they talk to #Syria ..? They say they're interested in Rule of Law…

PQ - Education

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if 170 of the 390 new special needs assistant posts announced on 3 December 2013, were allocated before the end of 2013; when the remaining 220 posts will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For PRIORITY answer on Tuesday, 21st January, 2014.

REPLY

The previous Government capped the number of SNA posts at 10,575 in December 2010. That cap remained in place until December 2013. The number of pupils in our schools has continued to increase since then. In December 2013, this Government agreed to increase the cap on SNAs by 390, increasing by 170 posts to 10,745 at the end of 2013, and by a further 220 posts to 10,965 at the end of 2014. The total number of posts currently allocated by the NCSE is 10,588 posts. The NCSE will decide, based on the number of valid applications received, on how many of the remaining posts need to be allocated to schools to meet pupils care needs. The additional posts provided will enable the NCSE to continue to allocate support to children who need it in order that they may fully participate in and benefit from their education.

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review his decision to exclude primary schools with existing book rental schemes from the new €15 million investment in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

-Mick Wallace. For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 21st January, 2014.

REPLY

I propose to take questions 131, 133, 137 and 154 together. First let me clarify that the Department will continue to provide a book grant as usual to all primary schools. This grant, can be utilised for the purposes of updating or expanding a school's existing book rental scheme. I want to commend all schools that have used it to help build up book rental schemes over the years. Their efforts mean that the high costs of school books is being significantly reduced for parents. At my request, the National Parents' Council surveyed the views of their members in relation to currently operating book rental schemes. Parents have reported that where book rental schemes operate, they are open to all parents in 95% of cases, and that the cost per child is under €40 per year in a considerable majority of schools.

Perhaps most tellingly, the survey has found that 93% of parents believe that book rental schemes help with the costs of educating a child. Ensuring that book rental schemes are available to all parents must therefore clearly be our aim.

I understand that it feels unfair to those schools who have invested time and money to establish such schemes, that they now cannot benefit from the additional funding which was secured as part of the Budget.

Of course it is unfair, but equally, the status quo was deeply unfair on many parents. The parents who had no access whatsoever to book rental schemes needed more support. With the limited funding available, I believe that targeting this funding - to make sure that every parent in Ireland has access to some level of a book rental scheme - was the greatest good that could be achieved.

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To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the deadline dates for appeals to decisions made by the National Council for Special Education during  special needs assistants reviews preceded the date on which some schools were  informed of SNA allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 26th November, 2013.

REPLY

Minister Ruairí Quinn

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating Special Needs Assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE published details of its first round of SNA allocations for schools in June of this year. The closing date for receipt of appeals in respect of these allocations was 30th September 2013.

The NCSE made a second round of allocations for schools on 21st October, 2013. The closing date in respect of this second round of allocations was 21st November, 2013. In relation to other applications or allocations which may be made during the school year, the school will be advised of the relevant closing date for any appeal at the time that the allocation decision is notified to the school. The NCSE have placed full details of their appeal process in respect of SNA and Resource Teaching Allocations on their website at www.ncse.ie.

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the qualification requirements for teachers providing home tuition for children with autism spectrum disorder were recently changed from specialist training in autism to a general primary school qualification; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 26th November, 2013. REPLY

Minister Ruairí Quinn

Home Tuition is provided to children who are unable to attend school or are awaiting a suitable educational placement and for pre-school children with autism.

The qualification requirements for tutors providing home tuition to children have not changed. It remains the case that Home tutors should be fully qualified teachers. When it is not possible to recruit a fully qualified teacher then alternative appropriate third level qualifications may be acceptable. However, from this year my Department has also required that, in addition to being qualified teachers, tutors must be registered or have applied for registration with the Teaching Council of Ireland.  Tutors with acceptable third level qualifications will be eligible to apply for registration. Accordingly, those whose qualifications were acceptable in the past remain eligible, provided they have applied for registration with the Teaching Council.

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To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ringfence current  funding for special needs assistants in Budget 2014; and if he will make a  statement on the matter. -Mick Wallace For Oral answer on Thursday, 8th October, 2013. REPLY The policy of this Government is to ensure that every child who is assessed as  needing SNA support will receive access to such support. The level of resources  being devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been  maintained at €1.3 billion. These resources have been protected despite the ongoing severe financial  position. The ongoing commitment of my Government to protect frontline supports  for children with special educational needs is an acknowledgment of the  important role played by SNAs in ensuring that children with special needs can  progress and develop and be included, where appropriate, in mainstream school  settings. This level of spending has been protected despite the ongoing severe financial  position. There has been no reduction in the number of SNA posts in the 2013/14  school year. As budget considerations are ongoing, I am not in a position at this point to  anticipate any future budgetary or expenditure provisions.

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To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will look at the case of a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which has recently lost 2.5 special needs assistants even though two new children with special needs are due to start at the school this September; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Details: The ASD Unit in Scoil Mhuire, County Wexford, has been told that they will lose 2.5 SNAs from September even though two new children are due to start in the unit at this time. These children's care needs were not included in the review undertaken by the National Council for Special Education, which resulted in the loss of 2.5 SNAs. -Mick Wallace For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 3rd July, 2013

REPLY I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the allocation of resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of Special Education supports and the staffing resources available to my Department. SNA allocations are made to schools by the NCSE annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support each year. All schools were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2013/14 school year by 15th March 2013. Details of the SNA allocations which have been made to schools by the NCSE for the 2013/2014 school year are now available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie, which provides details of the SNA allocations for each school on a school by school and per county basis. Where schools have enrolled children who were not considered at the time that these allocations were made, or where schools are seeking a revision to the quantum of SNA support which has been allocated to them for the coming school year, they should contact the NCSE regarding this matter. In general a revision to SNA allocations will only be made in circumstances where schools have enrolled new pupils or where schools can demonstrate that they do not have sufficient SNA posts to cater for the care needs of all of the qualifying children in their school. 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.

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