Minister Foley announces legislation to ensure sufficient provision of placements for children with special educational needs

Published on: 01 July 2022

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has today announced Government approval for the Education (Provision in Respect of Children with Special Educational Needs) Bill 2022 which seeks to ensure adequate provision of special educational needs placements for the coming school year.

The key provision in this new legislation provides for a truncated Section 37A process, whereby a school can be directed to make additional provision for children with special educational needs. This new process can lead to a Ministerial direction to be served on a school within 6 to 8 weeks of receiving a report from the NCSE setting out its opinion that there are insufficient schools places in a certain area. The shortened process still allows two opportunities for school patrons and boards to make representations to the Minister ahead of a direction issuing.

Minister Foley said: “I recognise the importance of inclusive education for all children. It is my primary objective to promote and support actions that will ensure that the school setting is a welcoming environment for all. This legislation is an important step in ensuring that children with special educational needs have a school place for the upcoming school year. This legislation means that a child-centred and child-focused approach is taken to the provision of special education classes.

“The Department and the NCSE will continue to engage intensely with school authorities to open new special classes for September, but I am confident that this legislation can also play a key role in helping us with those efforts.”

The Department and the NCSE continue to have a lot of engagement with patrons and school authorities in relation to opening special classes for 2022/23 school year. Primary schools in Dublin are a particular focus for intensive engagement where the NCSE is aware of 80 children who are awaiting a placement in a special class and who are not already in a mainstream setting. Over recent weeks this engagement has resulted in confirmations from 8 primary schools that they will open special classes for the 2022/23 school year. This will reduce the number of children who are awaiting a placement in a special class to around 56. 

Further engagement is happening with schools at present and this will continue intensively in the coming weeks with the intention of further reducing the number of children who require a special class placement.

In addition, the NCSE advises that approximately 50 children require a special school placement, and the Department and the NCSE are actively engaged in work to ensure that additional special school provision is made available on both the North and South side of Dublin.


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