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Minister to implement new model for allocating resource teachers to schools, following policy advice from the NCSE and piloting of new model in 47 schools

The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D., today (18th January, 2017), announced that a new model for allocating Special Education Teaching Resources to mainstream primary and post primary schools will be introduced from September 2017. This new model will be a fairer and better way to allocate resources to support children with Special Educational Needs.

An additional 900 teaching posts will be provided to support the introduction of this new allocation model. This substantial additional provision will ensure that:

· Up to 1,000 schools will receive additional allocations, where the new model indicates additional need.
· No school will receive an allocation of resources less than the allocation they received in the 2016/17 school year.

Currently there are over 12,000 special education teachers.

The new allocation model, which has been devised by a working group established by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) chaired by Eamon Stack, Chairperson of the Council, and further developed by the Department of Education and Skills in close collaboration with parents, teachers, disability representatives and other stakeholders, is aimed at providing better outcomes for children with special educational needs, and at addressing potential unfairnesses of the current model. It is be based on the profiled special educational need of each school.

The new special education teacher allocation model will allocate teachers to schools on the basis of the profiled educational needs of each school. This will end the unfairness which exists in the current system, whereby many parents are unable to access the assessments needed to qualify for educational resources. This had a particularly negative impact on children from more disadvantaged areas.

The new Resource Allocation Model will be a fairer and a better way to allocate resources. The main benefits of the new model are that:

· Barriers to accessing resources will be removed and children who need support can have that support provided immediately rather than having to wait for a diagnosis.
· Resources will be linked with genuine need, and children will not be unnecessarily, or inappropriately, labelled in order to access resources
· Resources will be linked closely with the learning needs of children
· It will ensure that children with special educational needs are properly integrated into the school
· Schools will be able to allocate resources to pupils taking into account their individual learning needs as opposed to requiring a particular diagnosis of disability.
· It will support inclusion and early intervention

The decision to implement this new allocation model, from next September follows the successful piloting of the model in 47 schools over the course of the 2015/16 school year. The Inspectorate of the Department of Education completed a review of the Pilot. The review concluded that:

The new model has been positively received by schools and parents

Schools welcome the move away from the unnecessary labelling of children in order to secure resources

Schools also welcomed that they no longer need to wait for diagnosis and that this facilitates intervention at an earlier stage based on the schools identification of need

In addition, schools indicated a belief that they were well supported in meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs

Most schools acknowledged that over the course of the pilot their whole school approaches had improved and that they were targeting students more effectively

Schools reported improvements in their planning for students, better collaboration between classroom and support teachers and better tracking of student progress

The role of resource teachers is to provide additional support for the educational needs of children with special educational needs. This is separate from the role of Special Needs Assistants who are responsible for supporting the care needs of the child, and are not the subject of today's announcement

Announcing the introduction of the new model today, Minister Bruton said:
“The basic aim of this Government is to sustain our economic progress and use it to build a fair and compassionate society. Education is the best means of delivering a fairer society, breaking down cycles of disadvantage and ensuring that all our people, in particular those with special educational needs, are able to participate in that progress and fulfil their potential.
“I am very pleased to be able to implement the NCSE policy advice recommendation that a new model for allocating special education teachers to schools should be introduced. The model which has been carefully worked up is aimed at ensuring that we can deliver better outcomes for children with special educational needs, and eliminate unfairnesses and other problems which exist in the current model.

“I am therefore very pleased to be able to announce today that the new model will be introduced from September 2017.

“I am delighted that the Government has agreed to provide very significant levels of additional resources, including 900 additional resource teachers, to ensure that the model can be introduced in a manner which ensures no school loses out by moving to the new allocation system.
The €18million of additional funding for this specific measure, and indeed the €1.5billion which the Government spends on this area overall, demonstrate our commitment to this crucial area. That is one fifth of the total education budget.

“I am convinced, based on all the work which has gone into this initiative that this will deliver better outcomes for children with special educational needs, and ultimately that is the most important thing for those of us who work in this area.

“I welcome the broad support from parental and disability representative bodies, and I wish to thank Eamon and his team at the NCSE, as well as all the other people who have been involved in this major project”.

Welcoming the announcement, the Chairman of the National Council on Special Education (NCSE), Mr. Eamon Stack said:

“We are delighted that the DES agreed with our proposal for change and developed this new model for allocating resources will benefit students, parents and schools”.

The allocations for each school, along with the new Circular for the scheme, Guidance for schools on how to distribute resources under the new model, and details of an appeal process for school will be issued to schools in the coming weeks.

The new model will also reduce the administrative burden on schools, as schools will no longer have to complete an application process annually. The combination of a baseline allocation based on school size and profiled allocation will give a fairer allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support but which provide a graduated allocation which takes into account the actual level of need and pupils in each school.