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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 9 November 2011

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Questions (81)

Terence Flanagan


79 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will deal with a matter (details supplied) regarding special needs assistants at a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33660/11]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The policy position of my Department in relation to the provision of Special Needs Assistant support, including in relation to the school referred to by the Deputy, has previously been provided to the Deputy in response to his Parliamentary question 28925/11 of 12th October, 2011.

The school in question has been allocated 3 SNA posts and 44.1 Resource Teacher hours for the current school year.

It is worth noting that SNAs are a school based resource and the allocation of SNAs to a school are subject to change over time. For example, children may have diminishing care needs or some children in a school may progress on to second level. Allocations are made by SENOs who have considerable professional experience and formal qualifications in the assesment of children with special educational needs.

The allocation of SNAs, while allocated on the basis of an assessed need of an individual child, are allocated to the school and should be deployed with discretion by the school in a manner which best meets the support requirements of all the children. If the parent concerned feels their child has experienced a regression due to changes in the school's overall SNA allocation they should raise this matter directly with the Principal and the local SENO.

I have also arranged for the Deputy's additional query in relation to the specific application for support for an individual pupil to this school to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.