The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) 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.
Our local service is delivered through our 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.
A major achievement in this area has been the elimination of the backlog of applications for support that existed when we were first established. We now deal with over 20,000 applications a year and deliver decisions to schools. In sanctioning resources for schools we operate within Department of Education and Skills policy parameters. However, in doing so our SENOs talk to schools, parents , HSE providers and other professionals before making decisions to ensure that the decision made is the best fit for the individual pupil.
A key aim of the Council is to progressively improve the co-ordination between the education and health sectors in providing the supports for children with special educational needs. We are doing this through participation in the Education/Health Cross Sectoral Group which includes representation from the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Health and Children and the HSE at national level and through interaction with the HSE and their service providers at local level.
We now have a substantial research programme under way and have published a number of reports from the first of our projects on this website. This research will help to inform best practice in the special education area and provide a basis for developing policy advice as appropriate. Click here to view the Research section of our website.
The remit of the Council will be significantly extended as the EPSEN Act 2004 is commenced. While certain sections of the Act have been commenced, the implementation of key sections which confers statutory rights to assessment, education plans and appeals processes on children with special educational needs has been deferred due to the current economic circumstances. However, the Council will continue to work towards achieving the ambitions of the Act in every way possible, pending its commencement.