Spe­cial needs posts to be filled

The Irish Times - - Home News - CARL O’BRIEN

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.

Over­all bud­get

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.

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