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 unfairness’s 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 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