Up To 800 Special Needs Assistant Posts To Be Created

Up to 800 new special needs assistant posts are to be allocated to Irish schools from September, the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has announced.

Making the announcement, Minister McHugh said: "Special needs assistants are vital to the work of a school. They are dedicated, caring and hugely important in ensuring the Government can meet its goal of supporting children with special needs and helping them to reach their potential.

"I would like to take this opportunity to pay credit to the fantastic work that they do."

The allocations being confirmed today means there will be a total of up to 15,950 special needs assistants working in schools by the end of 2019.

This is a 51% increase on the number of SNAs who were working in schools in 2011, when the figure stood at 10,575.

The Government will invest almost €560million in SNAs this year, as part of a total €1.9 Billion investment in special educational needs.

Schools are receiving confirmation of their allocations from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

This lives up to a commitment made by this Government in July 2017 that allocations would be confirmed before the end of May. In the last two years, budgeting for SNAs has been part of the normal Estimates process, ensuring that school principals, SNAs, parents and children are informed of the allocation in good time for the start of the next school year.

Minister McHugh said: "The record level of investment in special education and SNAs reflects the focus of this Government on children who will flourish and reach their potential when extra support is provided.

"More children with special educational needs than ever before are participating in school and this would not be possible without the unprecedented support of this Government, with a €1.9 billion investment in the sector.

"Our education system is increasingly better equipped to support children with special needs and support their full participation and progression."

In 2011, 22,284 children had access to SNA support. With the increased investment and today’s confirmed allocations, about 37,500 pupils will receive that support.

Minister McHugh said: "SNAs are the bedrock of Government supports for children with special needs. It is their work day in, day out that is key to helping ensure that children can go to school and participate in education. The extra posts I am announcing today will ensure that every child who has additional care requirements and needs access to SNA support can receive this support." 

The Minister also noted good progress in the development of the new School Inclusion Model. The pilot project – to run in 75 schools in parts of Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow – follows on from the National Council for Special Education's Comprehensive Review of the SNA Scheme.

The School Inclusion Model provides an enhanced model of support in schools to provide better outcomes for students with additional needs.

Addressing the School Inclusion Model, Minister McHugh said: "I am happy to report that progress in developing the key elements of this pilot are well underway.

"I look forward to applying this new model of support and the opportunity it affords for review and evaluations to ensure we are providing the most effective and efficient service to students in our schools who require additional supports."

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