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Action Needed on Autism Specific School for Dublin 15

A survey of Primary and Secondary School Principals in Dublin 15 by a group of parents and professionals campaigning for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Specific School has confirmed what parents already knew, that the educational and developmental needs of some of the most vulnerable children are not being met in ASD classes in mainstream schools.

The survey revealed that 68% of Principals surveyed believe that they have children who are in an inappropriate educational setting and that at least 54 of these children would be better placed in an Autism Specific School that caters for preschool, primary and secondary school age children.

Deputy Burton said:

“As one of the TDs for Dublin West, I have attended numerous meetings with parents frustrated with local services for children with complex needs. Dublin 15 and Dublin 7 has a large population of families with young children who urgently require an autistic specific school, this is something the Taoiseach has acknowledged, but has so far failed to act upon. An autistic specific school needs to be established before the beginning of the next academic year. Hopefully the results of this survey will help speed up this process.

“I will continue to push the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education and Skills on these issues in order to ensure parents do not face the prospect of another year of stress and uncertainty in attempting to find an appropriate education for their vulnerable child.”

Proposed Royal Canal Urban Greenway

Fingal County Council has recently announced plans to develop an Urban Greenway along the Royal Canal that would serve Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Coolmine and the wider Dublin 15 area. The Urban Greenway would aim to protect and enhance the existing environment along the canal, and would offer an attractive alternative transport choice for local school children and commuters.

Fingal County Council are now welcoming comments from local residents on the plans, and will be holding a public engagement process from Monday 25th February to Friday 22nd March. As part of this process, there will be a public information day in the Atrium of Blanchardstown Civic Offices on Tuesday 5th March from 11:30am to 7:30pm.

I am pleased to see these proposals from the Council and believe it will bring significant environmental, economic and health benefits to the community. I encourage all those interested in the greenway to attend the public information day, and to let me know their views.

Additional Prefab Accommodation at Pelletstown Education Together NS

At a recent meeting of Pelletstown Educate Together National School, I undertook to the parents and teachers that were present at the very pack meeting that I would raise the urgent need to obtain additional prefabs on the current temporary site of school before the next academic year in September. Pelletstown Educate Together National School has proven a very successful school so far and has been great in terms of helping to give local children a head start in life, and has provided a community base for the entire locality.

I later questioned the Department of Education over the issue of prefabs and I urged the Minister to get the permanent school building underway as quickly as possible at the designated permanent site. I think it is very obvious to anyone that knows the area that has been a very significant expansion in the child population. It seems at times however, that the Department of Education has not done its homework to find out on the ground how many children that are looking for places in local schools.

In his response to my questioning, the Minister in his reply said:

“In September 2019, the school will require additional interim accommodation. Officials at my Department are very aware of the additional accommodation requirements of the school and work is ongoing to ensure that there will be sufficient suitable additional accommodation available to the school for September 2019.

“The Department has been seeking the landlord’s permission to install the two prefabs which will be required for September 2019. The landlord has recently given consent and the Department is currently working on the planning application which will be lodged with Dublin City Council shortly.

“With regard to the permanent school building project for Pelletstown Educate Together NS, I am pleased to advise that the Department has secured the permanent site for the school and planning permission has been lodged with Dublin City Council. Providing the planning process runs smoothly and no issue arise, the project is scheduled to be on site in Quarter 2 of 2019. It is intended that construction will take place in a manner to allow for a phased handover of sufficient accommodation to meet the schools need by the end of January 2020. Phase 2 of the project is expected to be ready for Quarter 2 of 2020.

“The Department is in regular contact with and holds monthly meetings with the school Patron Body in relation to this and a number of other projects under their remit and will continue to keep the schools Patron Body fully informed of progress.”

Dail Eireann Debate – Report of Joint Committee on Education and Skills: Motion

Speaking recently in the Dail on the ‘Report on Training and Supports for Providers of Special Needs Education and Education in DEIS Schools,’ Labour TD for Dublin West, Joan Burton, thanked the Joint Committee on Education and Skills for producing this very valuable report, and commended all the people who work in special needs schools and in schools, as well as the genuine efforts being made to integrate children.

Deputy Burton said:

“Parents want their small child with special needs, to be mainstreamed into our educational system with other children as far as possible. That is understandable and good but definitely require appropriate nursing and clinical support. There needs to be cooperation between the medical and social services and the schools.

“Many issues involving a child with sever behavioural issues go to board level for action and I am concerned about this. The behavioural issues may be very severe and may involve actual or perceived threats to staff or other children in the school. This can sometimes result in the child effectively being excluded from school. We need to think about such exclusions because this is a difficult issue for everybody. Boards of management and patrons of schools should be specifically included in training opportunities.

“Nobody wants to see children being expelled from school or being excluded. In the UK, many children are being excluded from school and much subsequent analysis suggests that some of those children have behavioural issues that could be helped were they to receive expert help. Equally, no one wants parents to be told that their child can only be in school for an hour, that a parent has to be on the premises ready to intervene, should that be required, or be available to stay in the school if the child cannot be taken home. I like the idea of a nursing presence.

“I also am aware of a number of children who have transitioned from primary school and are now in their first year of secondary school. They are on the autism spectrum but also have difficult behavioural issues. In Castleknock, there has been no prescribing consultant psychiatrist in the Child and Adult Mental Health Service, CAHMS, panic attacks or other severe behavioural issues cannot be prescribed the medicine that may be essential to him or her to help manage his or her behaviour while attending school. The medicine prescribed can have important effects on the lives of both the child and his or her family. We are just developing knowledge in this area and not every school has access to this knowledge.

“Parents raise another issue with me all of the time. Children, in Dublin and elsewhere, are obliged to go on long bus journeys everyday. Some children may like and enjoy that. It is, however, very demanding on a child on the ASD spectrum who might have particular sensitivities to lights, movement, noise or traffic, to have to be on a bus for an hour or an hour and a half twice a day. I am sure it is something the educational experts have factored in. Parents usually welcome their child being in a special school but it is a very long journey.

“As Minister for Social Protection, I carried out a review, with the chief medical officer of the Department, on the domiciliary care allowance. It was changed at the time to specifically include the behavioural disorders that many of us have only learned of in relatively recent years. I am not sure those behavioural disorders are fully accounted for and recognised by the Department of Education and Skills. Behavioural issues, therefore, need some expert attention.

“I return to my experience in the then Department of Social Protection during the examination of the domiciliary care allowance. By consulting with various people with great experience in the field in a range of different countries, it was possible to make vast improvements in who qualified for the allowance. That took some of the pressure off of the families and gave them acknowledged support. I think the same thing is happening in the area of schools. We are at the beginning of further and better developments. I know many special needs assistants (SNAs). They give enormous support to children and are very important in the life of a school, both for the other children and for the school staff. There should be a focus on providing much more training capacity and opportunities to SNAs because many of us are aware of the great care they give to children.

“I refer also to school secretaries and the care they too give to children and to children with special needs in particular. If they can be included in the positive developments to come, that would pay major dividends in developing our understanding of how, as a society, we can best respond to special needs. That would be to everybody’s benefit.”

Introduction of Bill to Provide Legal Certainty for Informal Adoptions

Labour TD for Dublin West, Joan Burton, has introduced in the Dáil her Informal Adoptions (Regularisation) Bill 2019, which if passed into law would provide legal certainty following the illegal registration of informal adoptions where a false birth certificate was issued.

Introducing the Bill, Deputy Burton said:

“Adoption was first introduced to Ireland and regulated by the Adoption Act 1952. There was no lawful adoption in Ireland before 1952 and for a period after 1952 there was a widespread practice of informal adoption. Sometimes that took place within the wider family and sometimes through the aegis of a church or other voluntary agencies such as St. Patrick’s Guild.

“In May 2018, 126 cases of illegal registrations were finally confirmed by Tusla following analysis of files from St Patrick’s Guild. In those cases the adoptive parents were incorrectly registered as the birth parents on the birth certificates between 1946 and 1969. Instead of applying under the Act and registering with the Adoption Authority, infant children were simply transferred directly into the hands of their adoptive parents.

“The information provided to register the births was false and the children were as a result given false birth certificates, as the children of the adopting couple. That is where the illegal registration occurred. That generation of children are now in their 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s. They are without the benefit of a valid adoption order and their status within their families is legally uncertain.

“To date, the Minister has not indicated what legislative action will be taken to address the illegal registrations and to provide legal certainty to those affected.

“Under this Bill, where documentation is available and an individual desires a valid adoption, a person who was informally adopted could apply to the Circuit Court for a declaration of adoption. If satisfied with the evidence presented, the court may make a declaration that the applicant is deemed to have been validly adopted on a particular date. The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths will then cancel the false birth certificate while the Adoption Authority of Ireland will issue a valid adoption certificate.

“The second remedy deals with individuals who may have been told and had believed that they were indeed that natural children of those who reared them as their parents. They had no reason to believe they were adopted, regularly or irregularly. There may be no surviving records to enable them to trace the original parties to this informal arrangement. The Bill would change the rules of evidence to protect those who wish to preserve what they had considered to be the status quo.

“The Minister is offering social workers to people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60s or 70s so that they can pursue the issue. These people do not need social workers. They need a fairly simple court process to regularise their status. It is the children of today who are homeless who need the attention and support of social workers.”

Barnhill Local Area Plan Submission – Joan Burton TD

Introduction:

The proposed Barnhill/Barberstown development is situated at on the edge of the green belt area between Clonsilla, Dublin 15 and Lucan. It is important therefore, that as the area develops the council should take the maximum opportunity to implement a green, environmentally friendly approach. In particular the proposed housing development should ensure a green approach in terms of tree planting, public open spaces and the protection of wetlands.

Access by appropriate walkways and pedestrian bridges through to both canal and the river Liffey via the canal and St Catherine’s Park would be an enormous bonus to not just Barnhill, but the whole of the Dublin 15 area and would significantly enhance access to the Royal canal and the Liffey Valley special amenity area.

It should also be an objective of the council in conjunction with Meath County Council to create a walking and cycle path to Clonee via Ongar and to Dunboyne village. There are outstanding local attractions in Westmanstown Golf and Sport Centre, Shackelton Gardens, and Fort Lucan. I attach a proposal by Westmanstown Gaels GAA club for pitches for this rapidly expanding club serving all of the immediate local areas, for pitches at Barnhill. They also propose that there be pedestrian access between the development and the Westmanstown sports complex. This would also enable the very large parking at Westmanstown to be potentially availed of by walkers and others.

Currently, this area is not served by buses and there must be a dedicated bus service from Dublin Bus in to and out of the area. The proposed development has no bus services and while it is adjacent to the train station and railway line, there must public transport for the proposed new areas and should be included to access Ongar area. It is critical there are cycleways and walkways in areas like Ongar and Hansfield.

The development has an excessive amount of potentially extremely bland apartment blocks, the county council needs to clarify heights of blocks, and to consider a multiplex development, such as Annfield and Fernleigh in 4 and 5 storeys with traditional Irish pitched roofs. The area should be developed as a suburb, orientated to families with children, as well as older people, so that a mix of house sizes is appropriate.

Education and Community:

The large growth in population in the areas of Ongar and Hansfield over the past decade has led to a situation where the amount of places in primary and secondary schools is insufficient for local residents.

Pobail Scoil Setanta, the largest school in the area, has currently approx. 1200 pupils and is over-subscribed, having had to refuse a significant number of applicants this year. While there is the recent opening of a new secondary school, Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School, the concern grows that there are not enough secondary school places available for the large number of pupils graduating from primary schools this year, and over the coming years. There are many new houses in the area as well as those proposed at Barnhill.

Sufficient school places at primary and secondary need to be planned for. I would recommend that in addition, to a primary school, that a feasibility study be undertaken to establish the need for a new secondary school site in Barnhill. There needs to be a quality plan to help avoid nightmare scenarios for parents in the future, unable to access school places for their children. The council need to designate sufficient land for a primary and a secondary school on sites that include adequate play/sporting facilities such as pitches.

Westmanstown Garda Sports centre, this facility has outstanding sports facilities and includes a wide variety of the sporting amenities and now has an established GAA club, Westmanstown Gaels which has expanded rapidly. There are also other local clubs, such as Erin Go Bragh and Ongar Chasers Basket Ball Club that are in need of pitches/courts and space for community led activity. A walkway from Westmanstown to the new development site should be included to enable local residents and clubs to access the amenities, new developments, and transport services.

Transportation , Cycling and Pedestrian Infrastructure:

Prioritise the electrification of the Maynooth railway line, as the population continues to expand, including Barnhill.

The provision of dedicated walking/cycling ways to Hansfield/Clonsilla rail stations should encourage the use of public transport.

It must be noted that there is already insufficient capacity on the lines into the city centre at peak times, so additional carriages need to be added to trains, given the growth of the Dublin 15 area.

Improve pedestrian/cycling connections with existing facilities which are nearby, Westmanstown sports centre/Clonsilla and Hansfield Rail Stations.

All weather pedestrian/cycling path from Barnhill to Clonsilla along the Grand Canal.

Secure cycle parking for shared areas within the Barnhill LAP – including at retail/commercial areas, community centre and playgrounds/parks.

The parking layout at Hansfield station should be reviewed and improved.

Adequate local shopping and facilities should be provided, including a crèche and a provision for a doctors surgery, with no fast food outlets. Provision for small business development such as the rental of ‘hot-desk space’.

There should be provision for a community centre.

Environmental impact assessment of the wetlands and flooding risks and of wildlife, flora and fauna is essential.

Preservation of hedgerows and mature and ancient trees should be prioritised.

Amenities, Flaura & Fauna:

An urban centre modelled on the principles of promotion of healthy outdoor lifestyles and reduction of environmental impact, particularly with respect to transport.

I propose that this new development be modelled with regard for the environmental impact it will have. Pedestrians and cyclists should not just be accommodated but there should be an emphasis on these modes of transport as well as bus and train services. As we have seen with recent new developments across Europe, in countries such as the Netherlands, new developments need to take account of climate change and reducing carbon footprint.

Any new developments must help create a residential community which supports residents of all ages, parents and children, young couples, singles and older people, providing quality amenities and facilities.

Standard of Design & Existing Development:

I think that an opportunity exists for Fingal County Council, in the formation of the LAP, to embrace the highest quality planning to provide a sustainable development consistent with best standards in terms of reducing carbon footprint, insulation, and development of green spaces and facilities. Any new development could be planned as a model for Fingal in a sustainable development having regard to the following:

  • Eco and Energy efficient housing (i.e. solar, geothermal and biomass heating)
  • Eco material used in construction (i.e. renewable, recyclable, or recycled building materials)

The LAP should include a mixture of affordable and social housing, with specific access for residents with a disability.

Ministers’ Replies to Parliamentary Questions on Health & Children and Youth Affairs

For Written Answer on : 11/12/2018
Question Number(s): 275 Question Reference(s): 51511/18
Department: Health
Asked by: Joan Burton T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Health the length of time children are waiting for speech therapy and occupational therapy services after assessment for developmental language disorder a nationally; the comparable length of time for the Dublin 15 area; the number of children on such a waiting list nationally and in the Dublin 15 area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.
As the Deputy’s question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 11/12/2018
Question Number(s): 286 Question Reference(s): 51566/18
Department: Health
Asked by: Joan Burton T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Health the length of time  children are waiting for services in terms of speech and occupational therapy after assessment for a developmental language disorder at national level; the comparable length of time for the Dublin 15 area; and the number of children on such a waiting list nationally and in the Dublin 15 area, respectively.

REPLY

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy’s question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 11/12/2018
Question Number(s): 476,478 Question Reference(s): 51509/18, 51565/18
Department: Children and Youth Affairs
Asked by: Joan Burton T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

* To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the average cost of childcare services for pre-school children nationally; the average cost of such services in Dublin city and county; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Joan Burton T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 11 December, 2018.

* To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the average cost of childcare services for pre-school children; and the average cost of such services in Dublin city and county.

– Joan Burton T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 11 December, 2018.

REPLY

The cost of childcare in Ireland is a major challenge for families in Ireland. In particular it is a challenge to mothers returning to work and single parent families. Due to decades of underinvestment , we have inherited one of the most expensive models of early learning and care in Europe. But this is changing.

Record numbers of families availed of government subsidies to reduce this cost for families; including more than 40,000 children registered for the universal, non means tested subsidy of up to €1,040 per year whilst tens of thousands of families that needed it most received subsidies of up to €145 per week deducted from their childcare fees. This year the rise in cost charged for childcare was 2%, half of what was experienced the previous year.

In addition the number of children participating in the ECCE (free pre-school) scheme has doubled; whilst the scheme itself has lengthened to 76 weeks per child.

Earlier this year the Oireachtas signed the Childcare Support Act; putting the entitlement to financial support for childcare on a legislative footing for the first time.

In 2019, we will launch the Affordable Childcare Scheme, a radical new approach to how families access financial support towards quality early learning and care.

It will take time to deliver the world class system of early learning and care that families deserve but I am confident that we are moving swiftly in the right direction to achieve this goal.

Table: Cost charged for childcare – County by County

CountyFull day carePart-time careSessional
Dublin – Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown€233.26€127.45€86.26
Cork City€206.67€104.27€68.68
Dublin – Fingal€206.25€115.23€71.44
Dublin – South Dublin€202.25€116.92€72.17
Wicklow€200.21€102.47€71.77
Dublin – Dublin City€195.79€115.71€71.90
Cork County€192.37€108.57€71.06
Meath€183.52€100.68€68.80
Kildare€181.39€113.42€73.59
Kerry€172.17€90.24€62.01
Louth€172.12€101.05€68.69
Westmeath€167.97€90.50€69.45
Donegal€167.22€100.98€59.92
Wexford€166.34€97.30€67.69
Laois€164.46€103.04€66.85
Offaly€162.00€102.33€68.01
Kilkenny€159.87€88.61€66.46
Galway€159.44€96.29€67.33
Limerick€159.00€90.12€67.98
Clare€157.72€90.54€67.50
Waterford€157.24€88.94€61.55
Cavan€156.94€91.13€63.21
Leitrim€156.54€75.00€62.14
Mayo€156.40€85.04€64.26
Tipperary€155.08€92.02€67.33
Sligo€153.48€98.47€74.11
Roscommon€151.00€85.55€63.69
Carlow€149.53€84.29€70.02
Monaghan€147.97€80.12€64.35
Longford€146.56€88.68€63.31
Total€177.92€101.82€68.95

Briefing Paper: Special Schools with Autism Spectrum Disorder designation

 

Introduction

Information directly related to the Deputy’s queries about educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Special Schools is front-loaded. Additional information had been inserted into Appendices.

A number of the Deputy’s queries are covered by sections in recent NCSE reports. Where directly relevant these sections have been repeated wholesale. The NCSE has a very clear position on evidence informed advice (page 18 Policy Advice Paper 5), and describes an approach that takes into account a wide range of studies and international evidence reviews. These include two peer-reviewed studies commissioned by the NCSE including a broad range of evidence brought to their attention during their consultation processes.

 

Background

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) – used interchangeably with the more colloquial term ‘autism’ – are lifelong conditions that generally result in difficulties in social communication, social interaction and social imagination.[1] In addition, many people with ASD have sensory difficulties and unusually restrictive and repetitive behaviours and interests. While the core deficits associated with ASD are present throughout life, the expression of these difficulties will vary with age and with the presence of other disabilities or the influence of life events.[2]

ASD can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are grouped into three broad categories:[3]

  1. Problems and difficulties with social interaction: such as a lack of understanding and awareness of other people’s emotions and feelings;
  2. Impaired language and communication skills: such as delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them properly; and,
  3. Unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour: This includes making repetitive physical movements, such as hand tapping or twisting. The child develops set routines of behaviour, which can upset the child if the routines are broken.

Autistic disorder – sometimes referred to as ‘classic autism’ – is one of three broad types of ASD. The others are Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

Children with Asperger syndrome have milder symptoms that affect social interaction and behaviour. Their language development is usually unaffected, although they often have problems in certain areas of language. (For example, understanding humour or figures of speech, such as ‘she’s got a chip on her shoulder’ or ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’.) Children with Asperger syndrome usually have above-average intelligence. Some children are skilled in fields requiring logic, memory and creativity, such as maths, computer science and music. (But only 1 in 200 children are exceptionally skilled, so-called ‘autistic savants’).[4]

PDD-NOS can be thought of as a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’. It is used for children who share some, but not all, of the traits of autistic disorder and/or Asperger syndrome. Most children with PDD-NOS have milder symptoms than children with autistic disorder, but they do not share the good language skills and above-average intelligence associated with Asperger syndrome.[5]

The term ‘spectrum’ is sometimes used to refer to the symptoms of ASD, which can vary from individual to individual and from mild to severe.[6]

There is currently no cure for ASD, but there are a range of treatments that can improve the symptoms listed above.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

All of the statistical data in this report was provided directly from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) at the request of the researcher. It includes the most up to date information available.

 

The NCSE was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs (SEN) arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children.[7] The Council was first established as an independent statutory body by order of the Minister for Education and Science in December 2003.

 

The NCSE’s local service is delivered through its national network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) who interact with parents and schools and liaise with the HSE in providing resources to support children with special educational needs.

Note on language use

The Department of Education (DoE) and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) do not use the terminology ‘Autism Specific Schools’ or ‘Autism Specific Units’ rather they refer to them respectably as special schools whose primary designation is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and special classes whose primary designation is ASD.

 

Continuum of Education

The Deputy’s query focuses on special schools with an ASD designation. In the Irish context these schools are understood within a broad continuum of supports for students with ASD.

In Ireland, students with special educational needs are served by a continuum of provision ranging from full-time enrolment in mainstream classes to full-time enrolment in special schools, with a variety of options in between. This means a range of placement options is available to them which includes:

  • A mainstream class, where the student with special educational needs receives additional attention from the class teacher through differentiation of the curriculum and/or additional teaching support provided by a resource/learning support teacher or through co-teaching, where required.
  • A special class in a mainstream school.
  • A special school which has been designated by the Department of Education and Skills for a particular category or categories of disability.

Special needs assistants (SNAs) are allocated to primary, post-primary and special schools to support students with a disability who also have significant care needs. [8]

 

Quantity of Special Schools in Ireland

While a presumption in favour of including students with special educational needs in mainstream education is enshrined in legislation, special school provision is also available for students aged four to 18 years.[9] There are currently 135 special schools, 116 of which are resourced with teachers and training by NCSE. There are 19 other special schools, categorised as special for different reasons such as those for the education of children in detention and care.

Of the 116 special schools resourced by NCSE 19 have Autism Spectrum Disorder as a primary designation. See Chart 1 below for the national picture. The Table for this data is included in Appendix 1.

Chart 1: Special Schools by primary designation

Source: NCSE data provided to researcher November 2018 (L&RS analysis)

 

 

Special Schools (ASD) in Dublin

The Deputy articulated a particular interest in the number of special schools with and ASD designation in Dublin. Table 1 below shows that of the 19 special schools with ASD as a primary designation 7 are in Dublin. Table 2 in the Appendix 1 describes the following details. The full table of all schools in the state with ASD as a primary designation are available should the Deputy require it.

  • The location of each of these schools
  • The number of teaching posts as of end of 2017
  • The number of SNA posts as of end 2017
  • The number of pupils as of end 2017

Table 2: Special Schools with ASD as primary designation in Dublin

Name of School DesignationTeaching Posts End 17.18SNA Posts End 17.18Pupils 17/18
BALLYOWEN MEADOWSLoughlinstown, Co. DublinASD824.6648
SETANTA SPECIAL SCHOOLStillorgan Road, Co. DublinASD123055
ST MICHAEL’S HOUSE SPECIAL NATIONAL SCHOOLKilbarrack, Dublin 5ASD82330
Saplings RathfarnhamRathfarnham, Dublin 14ASD41822
ABACAS KilbarrackKilbarrack Dublin 5ASD731.6626
ABACAS KilnamanaghKilnamanagh, Dublin 24ASD519.6625
Red Door MonkstownMonkstown, Co. DublinASD21013

Source: NCSE data provided to researcher November 2018 (L&RS analysis)

 

 

ASD Special Classes in Dublin 7 and Dublin 15

The Deputy expressed an interest in ASD resources within the Dublin 7 and Dublin 15 postal codes. Accordingly a list of special classes for those with ASD in that area have been provided. This information was obtained directly from the NCSE and is correct as of September 2018.

There are 30 special classes with ASD as a primary designation in Dublin 7 and Dublin 15 as of September 2018. Five of these were in post primary and 25 were in primary schools.

Due to the length of this list, which includes the school name, school type, class type and number of teaching posts, the relevant table is presented in Appendix 2.

The full list of special schools in every postal code in the state are available should the Deputy be interested in them.

 

Education of Students with Challenging Behaviour

The Deputy has indicated that the parents she is liaising with are particularly concerned with meeting the needs of children with ASD with higher needs. Given that this may include those with challenging behaviour arising from ASD I include below relevant recommendations from the NCSE.

In NCSE briefing report number 5 it explicitly states that the following recommendations, taken from NCSE’s policy advice on the Education of Students with Challenging  Behaviour  Arising  from  Severe  Emotional Disturbance/Behaviour Disorder (EBD)  2012,  also  have  application  for  students with exceptionally challenging behaviour arising from ASD.

I include the text from that section of the report wholesale below as the evidence-led approach the NCSE takes to developing these positions is robust.

Staffing Levels for Children with Exceptionally Challenging Behaviour Arising from Severe EBD

When considering  the  education  of  students  with  challenging  behaviour  arising  from  a  severe   emotional and/or behavioural disorder, the NCSE advised that staffing levels in special  schools and classes for children exhibiting such behaviour must be sufficient to ensure the safety  of students and staff members. School boards of management should ensure that in classrooms where severely disturbing behaviours are being documented regularly and on an ongoing basis, no adult should be left in the room on their own at any time. This implies that if one adult leaves the room, for a break for example, two adults should be left to supervise the class. This rule should also apply to the supervision of break-time.

To provide  adequate  teaching  support  for  those  exceptional  cases  where  there  is  a  clear  and   documented history of repeated episodes of assault, violent behaviour or serious self-harm, special  schools  with  children  with  exceptionally  challenging  behaviour  arising  from  severe  EBD  should   be  allowed  to  set  up  one  class  with  a  reduced  pupil-teacher  ratio  of  4:1.  The  number  of  SNAs   allocated, for this class alone, should be sufficient to meet the requirement that no adult is left  alone in the classroom at any time.

Management of Challenging Behaviour

The NCSE advised that the DES should issue clear guidelines to schools on realistic and appropriate measures  to  be  taken  to  contain  children  during  episodes  of  violent  behaviour.  These  guidelines   should  be  based  on  evidence  of  international  best  practice  in  working  with  children  with  severe   emotional  and  behavioural  difficulties  and  should  specifically  address  when  it  is  appropriate  for   teachers and SNAs to use restraint and/or the use of a time-out room. The NCSE further advised that parents must be clearly informed of the school’s code of behaviour, including the practices in place for the containment and protection of the child during episodes of  violent behaviour.

Further reading: Education of Students with Challenging  Behaviour  Arising  from  Severe  Emotional Disturbance/Behaviour Disorder (NCSE 2012)

 

Dealing with severe behavioural issues

The Deputy queried best practice for dealing with students with ASD who have severe behavioural difficulties including self-harm.

NCSE policy advice paper 5 deals with those issues under the heading ‘crisis intervention’ (page 13). I include the text from that section of the report wholesale below as the evidence-led approach the NCSE takes to developing these positions is robust.

Crisis intervention

It is important to realise that challenging and/or violent behaviour is not necessarily linked to special educational needs but is a broad, societal issue. While challenging behaviour can be associated with a diagnosis of ASD, it is inappropriate to consider that all students with ASD present with it. Only a minority of students who may or may not have special educational needs demonstrate serious, challenging or violent behaviours in school settings.

Schools have a duty of care to all their students and staff. Their management of challenging (and sometimes violent behaviour) must be consistent with a student’s right to be treated with dignity and to be free of abuse. Schools should make every effort to prevent the need for the use of restraint and seclusion. School policies in this area should form part of overall policy on the positive management of behaviour which emphasises the importance of having: preventative strategies in place to avoid the emergence of challenging behaviour; good staff/student relationships to promote positive student behaviours; and early intervention to manage challenging behaviour if/ when it arises.

It is clear that some schools feel let down by the educational and health systems. They consider they are being asked to educate a small number of students who at times can exhibit extremely challenging and sometimes violent behaviours towards both themselves and others, without access to sufficient, necessary clinical and therapeutic advice and guidance. The reality is that staff members, including teachers and SNAs, are currently being injured in schools. While such incidents are few, they are nevertheless serious when they arise.

Views expressed on this issue were perhaps the most forceful, divisive and emotional heard during our consultation process. They ranged from: under no circumstances should separate rooms be used in schools for the management of behaviour to the absolute need for separate, lockable rooms for the safety of the student, other students and staff.

We found no evidence that the use of seclusion or restraint provided any educational or therapeutic benefit to students with ASD or that it reduced the recurrence of problem behaviours.

The literature is clear that many students with ASD can need time and space to self-regulate their behaviour and to avoid sensory overload.

In our view, the only legitimate rationale for use of seclusion and/or restraint is in an emergency situation to prevent injury or harm to the student concerned or to other students or staff members. Even then, as schools are not approved centres under the Mental Health Act, great care should betaken not to break this law in their use.

Schools therefore require guidelines, as a matter of priority from the DES on developing an appropriate policy for emergency procedures which details protocols that should be in place to deal with crisis situations that arise from incidences of challenging behaviours from any student in the school.

 

The DES should request the National Educational Psychological Service to prepare and issue clear guidelines to schools on: realistic and appropriate emergency procedures to be used in crisis situations, involving episodes of extremely challenging or violent behaviour, causing serious risk to the student him/herself, other students or staff members; and the supports that will be available to students, teachers, and parents following such incidents. The DES should seek legal advice to ensure the guidelines are lawful.

Schools should provide a ‘quiet space’ for students with ASD to meet their sensory needs but time-out rooms4 should not be available in schools specifically for students with ASD as there is no evidence basis to support their use with this group of students.

 

Teachers’ Professional Development

The Deputy queried best practice for dealing with students with ASD who have severe behavioural difficulties including self-harm. Concerns relating to teacher training were raised in the public consultation (NCSE policy document number 5, page 41). These were summarised as follows

There was a lot of concern about the level of training and knowledge of teachers working with students with ASD as they require knowledgeable and experienced teachers. There was also great concern about non-experienced teachers being given special classes and resource teaching hours and the practice in some post-primary schools where resource teaching hours were used to ‘fill’ subject teacher timetables. This resulted in a fragmented experience for the student.

NCSE policy advice paper 5 deals with those issues under the heading ‘Teacher’s Professional Development’ (page 109). I include the text from that section of the report wholesale below as the evidence-led approach the NCSE takes to developing these positions is robust.

Teachers’ Professional Development

The NCSE has previously advised that all professionals working with students with special educational needs should be required to develop and foster the skills necessary to meet the diverse needs of this population and should have in place protocols to share information, where appropriate. It is particularly important that all professionals working with this group of students adopt an inclusive philosophy towards their education.

The NCSE drew attention to research findings highlighting that the quality of teachers and their teaching are the factors most likely to have the greatest impact and influence on educational outcomes. Given the centrality of the teacher in the education of students with special educational needs, the NCSE considered that special education should form a mandatory part of every teacher’s initial training and ongoing continuous professional development. The development of a student’s organisational, social and communication skills should be viewed as part of every teacher’s responsibilities and should form part of the whole-school plan.

The NCSE recommended that the Teaching Council should establish standards of teaching in relation to the knowledge, understanding, skills and competence necessary for teaching students with special educational needs, including ASD in mainstream and special settings. The Teaching Council should develop a framework for initial and continuing professional development to ensure that teachers are provided with this knowledge, understanding, skills and competence. The framework should address both the requirements of newly qualified teachers and the upskilling of existing teachers. This should form part of an overall framework for teachers working with students with special educational needs.

The NCSE recommended that the Teaching Council and the DES should ensure that teachers are provided with the necessary knowledge, skills, understanding and competence to meet the diverse learning needs of students with special educational needs. The Teaching Council should stipulate mandatory levels and frequency of CPD that teachers are required to undertake for teaching this population within an overall framework of CPD for teachers. A framework for the professional development of teachers working with students with special educational needs was outlined in Appendix 3 of the report and addressed: what training should be in place as part of initial teacher education programmes; what training should be in place as part of ongoing continuing professional development for all teachers and for teachers in specialist roles and settings (learning support/resource teachers, visiting teachers, teachers in special schools and classes).

Given the importance of this aspect for the education of students with special educational needs,it is worth outlining the particular recommendations that the NCSE made for the ongoing CPD for teachers in specialist roles and settings (learning support/resource teachers, visiting teachers , teachers in special schools and classes).

The Teaching Council should stipulate mandatory levels and frequency of CPD for teachers in specialist roles/settings that include opportunities to develop skills appropriate to teaching particular groups of students and collaborative working skills for interaction with colleagues, parents and professionals.

  • The DES should consider the possibility of requiring teachers in specialist roles and settings to hold a recognised postgraduate diploma in special education and/or a postgraduate diploma in a specific disability category. Opportunities for placement in a special education setting should be available as an integral part of postgraduate programmes in special education.
  • Further development of competences or standards that define the specific skills, knowledge and understanding required for teachers working with students within different categories of special educational needs, should underpin continuing professional development for these teachers.
  • Teacher Education Section should provide a strategic programme of professional development designed and delivered specifically to teachers in special schools to address, in an in-depth manner, the complex and diverse needs of students attending special schools.
  • The requirements of post-primary teachers should be taken into account in the design and delivery of programmes of continuing professional development.

Finally, the NCSE recommended that an ongoing programme of CPD should be designed and delivered for principals and deputy principals to focus on providing leadership for the education of students with special educational needs in schools.

Appendix 1

Table 1: Primary Designation of Special Schools

 Total
Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)19
Emotional Disturbance/Behaviour Disorder (EBD)1
Hearing Impairment2
Mild General Learning Disability (GLD) Schools30
Moderate General Learning Disability (GLD) Schools33
Multiple1
Physical6
Preschool1
Severe Emotional Disturbance/Behaviour Disorder (SEBD)8
Sev/Profound Learning Disability10
Specific Learning4
Visually Impaired1
Total116

Source: NCSE data provided to researcher November 2018 (L&RS analysis)

 

 

Appendix 2

ASD Classes in Dublin 7 and Dublin 15

NCSE list of special classes as of September 2018

The Deputy expressed interest in ASD resources within the Dublin 7 and Dublin 15 postal codes. Accordingly I have provided a list of special classes for those with ASD in that area. This information was obtained directly from the NCSE and is correct as of September 2018. The school name, school type, class type and number of teaching posts are presented below.

There are 30 special classes with ASD as a primary designation in Dublin 7 and Dublin 15 as of September 2018. Five of these were in post primary and 25 were in primary schools. The full list of special schools in every postal code in the state are available should the Deputy be interested in them.

Table X: Special Schools with ASD as primary designation in Dublin 7 and Dublin 15

NameSRNSchool NameAddressSch TypeClass TypeTeaching PostsNew Class
Dublin 1519435QSt Francis Xavier J N SRoselawn RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1519470SSt Francis Xavier Senior N SRoselawn RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1519755LSacred Heart N SHuntstownPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1519755LSacred Heart N SHuntstownPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1519755LSacred Heart N SHuntstownPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520098ICastleknock Educate Together NsBeechpark AvenuePrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520098ICastleknock Educate Together NsBeechpark AvenuePrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520201VTyrrelstown Educate TogetherHollywood RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520201VTyrrelstown Educate TogetherHollywood RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520241KScoil Choilm Community National School Porterstown RdPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520241KScoil Choilm Community National School Porterstown RdPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520247WScoil GhráinnePhibblestownPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520247WScoil GhráinnePhibblestownPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520383HHansfield Educate Together NSBarnwell RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520383HHansfield Educate Together NSBarnwell RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520384JPowerstown Educate TogetherPowerstown RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520384JPowerstown Educate TogetherPowerstown RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1568083NLe Cheile Secondary SchoolTyrellstownPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50New
Dublin 1568101MHansfield Educate Together Secondary SchoolBarnwell rdPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50 
Dublin 1520383HHansfield Educate Together NSBarnwell RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520384JPowerstown Educate TogetherPowerstown RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1520384JPowerstown Educate TogetherPowerstown RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 1568083NLe Cheile Secondary SchoolTyrellstownPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50New
Dublin 1568101MHansfield Educate Together Secondary SchoolBarnwell rdPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50 
Dublin 1568101MHansfield Educate Together Secondary SchoolBarnwell rdPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50New
Dublin 1576098WColaiste Pobail SetantaPhibblestownPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50 
Dublin 1576098WColaiste Pobail SetantaPhibblestownPost PrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.50 
Dublin 716988TChrist the King Boys NSAnnaly RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 716988TChrist the King Boys NSAnnaly RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 717464NSt. Finbarrs Boys NSKilkieran RoadPrimaryASD Early Intervention1.00 
Dublin 717466RSt Catherine’s Infants’ SchoolRathoath RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 718632NSt. John Bosco Junior Boys NSNavan RdPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 720131DDublin 7 Educate Together NSFitzwilliam PlacePrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 720152LNorth Dublin Muslim NSRatoath RoadPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00 
Dublin 720502MScoil Sinead PelletstownC/O ETNSPrimaryAutism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders1.00New

Source: NCSE data provided to researcher November 2018 (L&RS analysis)

[1] Wing et al, 1979. Severe impairments of social interaction and associated abnormalities in children: epidemiology and classification. J Autism Dev Disord. 1979 Mar; 9(1):11-29.

[2] http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders

[3] https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/a/asperger-syndrome/causes-of-autistic-spectrum-disorder.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/a/asperger-syndrome/causes-of-autistic-spectrum-disorder.html

[7] http://ncse.ie/about-us

[8] National Council for Special Education, “Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools,” May 2013.

[9] Patricia Daly et al., “An Evaluation of Education Provision for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Ireland,” National Council for Special Education, no. 21 (n.d.): 310.

BUS CONNECTS – BUS CORRIDOR INFORMATION SESSION

As you are aware, BusConnects is a major investment programme to improve public transport in Dublin. It aims to overhaul the current bus system through a 10 year integrated programme of integrated actions to deliver a more efficient, reliable and better bus system for more people.  As part of this programme, the Core Bus Corridors project focuses on bus lanes and aims to deliver 230kms of dedicated bus lanes and 200kms of cycle tracks along 16 of the busiest corridors in Dublin.

The NTA wants to include all interested parties in the development of the Core Bus Corridors Project at all times. Therefore, in addition to the normal public consultation communications which will include public information events in January, we are also establishing a community forum for each corridor, beginning with Clongriffin, Swords, Lucan and Blanchardstown.

  • Blanchardstown Community Forum will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Wednesday 12th December from 6.30pm-8.00pm.

Membership of each forum will comprise of a single representative from resident and community associations, disability and special interest groups as well as business organisations on the corridors along with public representatives.

As places are limited, only one representative per group or association can be accepted. We are now accepting requests to participate in the community forum where the name and contact details of the nominee as well as the name of their respective association can be sent to cbc@busconnects.ie. The name of the nominated representative must be sent to us by the close of business on Friday 7th December. Please be aware that places will be limited at the event so only registered attendees will be able to attend the forum on the night.