Dáil Question No: 226

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason, according to circular 07/2012, five years per week learning support are offered to pupils in all boys mainstream classrooms whilst only four hours per week are offered to pupils attending all girls mainstream classroom; his views on whether it is fair that a differentiation should be made between boys and girls; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013.
Reference Number: 33390/13


Answered by Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn 

I understand the Deputy is referring to resources allocated to schools under the General Allocation Model (GAM) of additional teaching supports, which are allocated to all Primary schools to cater for children with high incidence special educational needs.

I wish to advise the Deputy that differing pupil teacher ratios are applied under the GAM in relation to boys, girls and mixed schools in order to account for differentials of prevalence of learning difficulty between boys and girls. The objective of this differentiation is to ensure that resources provided to schools to support children who have additional learning needs are targetted to ensure that those children most in need benefit from these resources.

The rationale for the differing ratios is based on international literature on the incidence of disability as well as international and national surveys of literacy and numeracy which indicate that there is a greater incidence of disability/learning difficulty in boys than girls.

The NCSE Report on the Implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, of 2006, also examined a range of sources to establish prevalence rates, including national databases, local and international studies and expert estimates, which indicated significantly higher rates of Mild General Learning Difficulty and Specific Learning Disability prevailing in boys, in comparison to girls.

The criteria for the allocation of GAM hours is outlined in circular 13/2013 which is available on my Department’s website www.education.ie.