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 primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports including resource teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.
The level of resources being devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been maintained at €1.3 billion this year. This includes provision for 10,575 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and nearly 10,000 Learning Support and Resource Teachers. These resources have been protected despite the ongoing severe financial position and a requirement to make expenditure savings across a range of areas. There has been no reduction to the overall number of SNA posts being provided for schools for the coming school year. This provision remains at 10,575 posts, which will ensure that all children who qualify for access to SNA support for the coming school year will receive access to such support.
The total number of SNA posts allocated to schools for the 2012/13 school year was 10,487 posts. For the 2011/12 school year it was 10,320 posts. The demand for SNAs for the 2013/2014 school year currently stands at 10,490 leaving some 85 posts available for late demand. It is therefore estimated that there will be sufficient SNA posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such support in the coming school year. SNA allocations are made to schools by the NCSE annually, taking into account the assessed care needs of qualifying children. All schools were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2013/14 school year by 15th March 2013.
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. Where schools have enrolled children who were not considered at the time that these allocations were made, or where schools are seeking a revision to the quantum of SNA support which has been allocated to them for the coming school year, they should contact the NCSE regarding this matter. In general a revision to SNA allocations will only be made in circumstances where schools have enrolled new pupils or where schools can demonstrate that they do not have sufficient SNA posts to cater for the care needs of all of the qualifying children in their school. 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.