The Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education Josepha Madigan TD has today provided an update on the provision of special class and special school places across Dublin and Cork for the forthcoming school year.
“The Department has been engaging with the NCSE and school authorities with regard to these two areas to ensure that the necessary special education places are provided this year.
“As a Department we are committed to special education provision with over 25 per cent of our total budget being spent on special education.
“Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government and for me as Minister. This year, just under 25% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs and I will continue to prioritise supporting children with special educational needs in Budget 2023.
“I’m delighted to say that we have made significant progress over the last few months in terms of additional special classes being sanctioned by the NCSE. Since I announced that I would be using the section 37a process to compel schools to open classes across the country, the Department and the NCSE have been working tirelessly with school communities to increase the amount of special classes.
“As students return to school, a record 2535 special classes will open their doors. This is an increase of 383 classes from the previous school year and will ensure that approximately 15,759 special class places will be available this year, including 2312 new special class places.
“In terms of Special School places, I want to acknowledge the work of the NCSE and the school patrons including St Michael’s House, the Spiritans and Cork ETB who have engaged positively in both Dublin and Cork. As a result we are now in a position to provide a significant number of additional special school places with the creation of three new Special Schools.
“My number one priority as Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education has been to ensure that every child in this country has access to a school place and the NCSE has advised that we now have sufficient places available to meet the expected need this school year.”
Notes to Editors
Where the NCSE have just sanctioned new special classes over recent weeks, those schools may need some additional time to complete their admission processes, recruit staff and work through any minor building and reconfiguration works. The NCSE are working directly with any schools in this situation to get these classes open as quickly as possible. Schools are also engaging directly with parents and are working to support children ahead of their transition into these new special classes. The NCSE is also providing training and supporting schools opening new special classes.
St. Michael’s House will provide an additional 24 places in its special school, Foxfield. To enable this development, the Department has provided a second site in Drinan, Swords. This is a temporary arrangement pending the proposed expansion of St. Michael’s House Special School Foxfield in a new permanent school building on the site.
St. Michael’s House, The Department, the NCSE and the school are working intensely to have these new places available for students as early as possible.
As this proposal was initiated to meet the needs of children known to the NCSE without the offer of a special school place on the North side of Dublin, it has been agreed that the available places will be prioritised for children already on the St. Michael’s House Special School Foxfield waiting list and children known to the NCSE without a special school place on the north side of Dublin.
It is expected that over the next few weeks, those children already on the school waiting list will be offered places directly by the school board of management. Local SENOs will shortly contact the parents of children known to them to assist with making an application for admission. The NCSE will also host a dedicated information session for parents to provide information on the admission process.
The Department and the NCSE continue to hold regular engagement with the Spiritan Education Trust in relation to the opening of a new special school on the south side of Dublin, in line with the Trust’s commitment to provide special education facilities across its school network.
As part of this engagement, it is proposed to provide 24 places on a temporary basis pending the building of a new permanent special school and special education facilities in an adjoining post-primary school.
A new principal is expected to be appointed shortly for the proposed special school and it is expected that the school will then move to recruit staff and develop an admissions policy.
The Department, NCSE and the Spiritan Education Trust continue to work towards having these places available for students during the new school year.
Cork Education and Training Board as patron body in conjunction with the NCSE and the Department of Education continue to advance planning for the opening of the new Rochestown Community Special School during the coming school year.
Cork ETB are in the process of recruiting a principal and staff for the new special school. The school is also working through its admission process for the new special school in collaboration with parents and the NCSE.
It is envisaged that this school is expected to grow its capacity to provide up to 64 school places in the short to medium term, pending a new permanent school building being provided.