Special needs posts to be filled
Almost 1,000 extra special needs assistants (SNAs) are to be allocated to schools in the autumn to help meet the needs of vulnerable students.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the increased numbers were required to meet the level of demand from children who need extra supports in class.
“Today’s announcement will ensure every child who needs SNA support, will receive it,” Mr Bruton said.
He said 800 additional SNAs will be allocated to schools for the beginning of the next school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated over the period September to December 2018.
This means there will be a total of 15,000 SNAs working in our schools, a 42 per cent increase on 2011.
Investment in special education – which stands at about ¤1.7 billion – now accounts for a fifth of the overall education budget.The SNA scheme accounts for almost ¤525 million of this.
The increased investment has sparked concern from the Department of Public Expenditure over the “rapidly escalating” costs.
Internal briefing material prepared for Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe ahead of the 2018 budget expressed alarm that special education supports now cost more than the entire higher education system.
Mr Bruton, however, says the investment reflects the growing participation of children with special needs in the education system.
The National Council for Special Education will now proceed to notify schools of their SNA allocations for the coming school year.
It is due to publish details of these allocations on their website (www.ncse.ie) today.