For Oral Answer on : 16/05/2023
Question Number(s): 88 Question Reference(s): 22629/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education if she will provide an update on her Department’s announcement of 12 April 2023 of the establishment of a special school in Carrigtwohill, County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I would like to thank the Deputy for the question and would like to advise the following:
Enabling children with special educational needs (SEN) to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government.
It is also a key priority for me as Minister for Special Education & Inclusion, for my Department and for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
For 2023, the spend by my Department on special education will be substantially increased by over 10% on last year, meaning that for 2023 my Department will spend over €2.6 billion providing supports to children and young people with special educational needs and their schools.
This level of educational funding and support is unprecedented and represents in excess of 27% of the Department’s total allocation for 2023.
This includes funding to support children with SEN in mainstream classes; funding for new special classes and new special school places; additional special educational teachers and special needs assistants.
The NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children with special educational needs nationwide.
Over the last two to three years, my Department and the NCSE have introduced a number of strategic initiatives to plan for and provide sufficient special class and special school places.
These initiatives are bearing fruit with over 600 new special classes sanctioned at primary level, almost 300 new special classes sanctioned at post-primary level and five new special schools established over the last three years.
Two of these new special schools were established in Co. Cork – Carrigaline Community Special School and the new Rochestown Community Special School which opened very recently.
Just recently on 12th April, Minister Foley and l announced that a further special school will be established in Carrigtwohill, east Cork.
The new special school will be under the patronage of Cork ETB. It is intended that places in the new special schools will be prioritised for children who have no offer of a special school place for the 2023/24 school year.
My Department, the NCSE and Cork ETB are having ongoing engagement in relation to planning for the establishment of the new special school.
The arrangements and location for the initial establishment of the new special school are currently being finalised with Cork ETB.
My Department is also actively exploring the options for the permanent location for the new special school and will be liaising with Cork ETB in relation to same.
Other elements of the planning for the new school, including the appointment of a school principal and the development of an Admission’s Policy are being progressed.
In relation to special classes, the NCSE have sanctioned 305 new special classes for the coming school year 2023/2024, with more to be confirmed in the coming weeks – 197 at primary and 108 at post-primary level. Of these new classes, 67 are in Co. Cork, with 49 at primary level and 18 at post-primary level. These new classes will bring the total number of special classes in Co. Cork to 487, 348 at primary and 139 at post-primary.
The NCSE has advised my Department that it continues to work with schools to ensure all students identified as requiring places in the special class meet the Department of Education’s criteria for enrolment in a special class.
Parents seeking special class placements for their children are advised to contact the NCSE locally so that their needs can be taken into account for planning purposes. The local SENOs remain available to assist and advise parents of children with special educational needs. Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list.
Information on the list of schools with special classes, the types and locations of these classes is published on the NCSE website and is available at www.ncse.ie
I want to reassure you also that my Department will continue to support the NCSE and schools through the provision of the necessary funding and capital investment to ensure all children are successful in accessing an education.