Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (90)

Terence Flanagan


90. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding special needs assistants in mainstream schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18324/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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. The criteria by which SNA support is allocated to pupils is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.

The previous Government capped the number of SNA posts at 10,575 in December 2010. That cap remained in place until December 2013. In December 2013, this Government agreed to increase the cap on the number of SNA posts by 390 posts to 10,965 at the end of 2014.

The NCSE allocates a quantum of SNA support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support. The deployment of SNAs within schools is then a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school 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.

The NCSE invited schools to make applications for SNA support for children who have assessed care needs for the coming 2014/15 school year by 26th March 2014, for their consideration. The NCSE will advise schools of the outcome of their applications ahead of the new school year.