Autism and Primary Education
The EPSEN Act, 2004 (Section 2) explicitly states that children with special educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment with other children who do not have such needs unless to do so would be inconsistent with the best interests of the child or the effective provision of education for children with whom the child is to be educated (Gov. of Ireland, 2004).
In Ireland every child has a constitutional right to an education. If a child has special educational needs they have a right to be educated in either main stream school or a special school with the right supports. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) supports an inclusive educational system that enables children and young adults to achieve their potential.
What is the NCSE and who is the SENO?
The NCSE stands for the National Council for Special Education. It was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children. The Council was first established as an independent statutory body by order of the Minister for Education and Science in December 2003. www.ncse.ie
The NCSE local service is delivered through their 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.
It is really important that you contact the SENO for your area to let them know that you are looking for a school place for your child. They won’t be able to identify a place but will give you the current list of all the schools and ASD classes in the area. The SENO is also the person who signs off on the school place once it is allocated and also on transport and any additional resources that are needed.
1.55% of the student body has been diagnosed with ASD and as a result receive additional educational supports. A survey carried out in 2016 found that 63% of students with ASD were educated in mainstream classes, 23% were educated in special mainstream primary and post-primary and 14% were educated in 118 special schools.
Which school placement your child receives will depend on the nearest, available school, your AON Assessment Officer and parental choice.
There are 6 options for primary school as follows:
- Mainstream with access to a SNA (Special Needs Assistant)
- ASD Class to Mainstream
- ASD class attached to Special School
- Special School
- Home Tuition/Home Schooling
Transport to and from school is signed off by the SENO whereas the escort who travels with the student to and from school is employed by the school.
An ASD class in primary has a 6:1 pupil teacher ratio and there are two SNA (special needs assistants) assigned to each classroom.
If your child requires a place in an ASD class in a primary school or in a special school, see our Resources Directory for details of the primary and special schools in Co. Louth and Co. Meath.