Extra 380 resource teachers appointed to schools
Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30
An additional 380 resource teachers are being appointed to schools to support students with special needs in the current academic year.
It brings to 6,832 the total number of resource teachers, up 10pc on last year and up 30pc - 1,567 teachers - on three years ago.
An initial allocation of 6,454 resource teachers for 2015/16 was announced in May, when a number of posts were held in reserve to take account of late applications on behalf of newly diagnosed students.
In the Budget last week, Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan committed to funding for a further 600 resource teachers from next September,
As well as resource teachers, which are allocated for pupils with the most complex special needs, there are also learning support teachers to assist students with a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. These allocations are linked to a school's enrolment figures. Between the two groups there are more than 11,000 teachers.
There are also more than 11,000 special needs assistants in schools to help students with care needs, such as feeding or toileting.
Arising from the Budget, overall funding next year for special education provision will rise to €1.5bn, equivalent to 17.6pc of the annual budget for education.
A new way of allocating extra teachers to schools for pupils with special educational needs is being tested following a recommendation from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
In the current school year, a pilot scheme is being rolled out in 47 schools - 28 at primary level and 19 at post-primary.
The NCSE recommended the revised model of support to give schools greater flexibility to allocate assistance to pupils, taking into account their learning needs as opposed to being based primarily on a disability diagnosis.
Currently, the provision of resource teachers works to the advantage of better-off parents, who can afford to pay for a diagnosis to support their child's case for extra help in the classroom.
Another downside is that children risk being diagnosed as having a special educational need for resource allocation purposes rather than for health reasons. Under the proposed new system, a school would have a baseline allocation, while its educational profile would be used as a basis for additional teacher posts.