I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department. All schools were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012.
All schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, have been advised by the NCSE of their resource teaching and SNA staffing allocation for the current school year. Details of the allocations which have been made to each school are available at www.ncse.ie.
All primary schools receive a quantum of resource hours for children with special educational needs through the General Allocation Model and also through individual allocations for children with low incidence special needs. The NCSE allocates a level of SNA support for each school annually taking into account the care needs of all of the qualifying children enrolled in the school. SNAs should then be deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised. Where schools have enrolled new pupils with special educational needs who were not considered at the time that the allocations for the 2012/13 school year were made, or where schools are in a position to demonstrate that they cannot cater for the care needs of qualifying children from the level of SNA support which has been assigned to them, they may apply to the NCSE for additional SNA support or for a review of their SNA allocation.
Similarly where SNA support was not initially allocated for a child in a junior infant class, but where it can be demonstrated that the child requires SNA assistance in the classroom environment, the school may apply to the NCSE for additional SNA support or for a review of their SNA allocation. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.