Schools get 1,000 ex­tra spe­cial needs as­sis­tants

Irish Independent - - News / Education - Fiona Dil­lon

NEARLY 1,000 new spe­cial needs as­sis­tants (SNAs) will be ap­pointed this year.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Richard Bru­ton said that 800 ad­di­tional spe­cial needs as­sis­tants will be al­lo­cated for the be­gin­ning of the next school year, with a fur­ther 140 ex­pected to be al­lo­cated be­tween Septem­ber and De­cem­ber.

The fig­ures rep­re­sent an in­crease of just over 7pc on last year to meet the level of as­sessed de­mand.

It will bring to 15,000 the num­ber of spe­cial needs as­sis­tants work­ing in schools na­tion­wide.

A to­tal of €524m is be­ing in­vested in SNAs an­nu­ally. When the new posts are in­tro­duced, some 36,000 pupils will be able to avail of the sup­port.

Mr Bru­ton said: “The aim of the Gov­ern­ment is to en­sure that chil­dren with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs can be sup­ported to fully par­tic­i­pate in schools and ful­fil their po­ten­tial.”

He said that by deal­ing with fund­ing for SNA posts as part of the nor­mal an­nual Es­ti­mates process, he was able to an- nounce the al­lo­ca­tions at a time when they can give cer­tainty to the school com­mu­ni­ties at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.

Mr Bru­ton said the Na­tional Coun­cil for Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion (NCSE) will now pro­ceed to no­tify schools of their SNA al­lo­ca­tions for the com­ing 20182019 school year, and it will pub­lish de­tails of these al­lo­ca­tions on its web­site.

“SNAs have con­tin­ued to play a key role in help­ing chil­dren with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs who have ad­di­tional care needs to at­tend schools and par­tic­i­pate in ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

In July last year, Mr Bru­ton had given a com­mit­ment that fund­ing for SNA posts would be dealt with as part of the nor­mal Es­ti­mates process, so that schools would be in­formed of their al­lo­ca­tion for the be­gin­ning of the new school year be­fore the end of May 2018. The move is to fa­cil­i­tate schools be­ing able to plan for the year ahead.

The NCSE was asked in Septem­ber 2016 to lead a review of the SNA scheme, and its re­port was sub­mit­ted to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. Its con­tents are “un­der con­sid­er­a­tion”.

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