I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the allocation of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of Special Education supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.
The NCSE allocates a level of SNA support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of all of the qualifying children enrolled in the school. SNAs are then 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.
Some 10,575 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) SNA posts have been made available for allocation to schools by the NCSE for the coming school year, subject to qualifying applications being received. The number of SNA posts available for allocation has been maintained at a time when there has been a requirement to make savings across a range of expenditure areas.
The NCSE has allocated 10,490 SNA posts to schools for the 2013/14 school year, providing for access to SNA support for 22,000 pupils. The total number of SNA posts allocated to schools for the 2012/13 school year was 10,487 posts.
Details of the SNA allocations which have been made to schools by the NCSE for the 2013/2014 school year are now available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie, which provides details of the SNA allocations for each school on a school by school and per county basis.
As all applications for SNA support are considered by the NCSE, I have referred the Deputy's question regarding the number of children who have been assigned SNA support for the past five years to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply to the Deputy.