Thursday, 10 July 2014

Questions (80)

Heather Humphreys


80. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine a case where a special needs assistant allocation has been withdrawn from a school (details supplied) in County Monaghan; the reason this school was only notified online that this vital support would be withdrawn; when the school may expect to have a decision on its appeal, which has been submitted to the National Council for Special Education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30575/14]

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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 a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support. 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 National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have allocated over 10,900 Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts in schools to support students with special needs for the 2014/2015 school year. The exact numbers of SNAs will become clear when enrolments of students in mainstream schools are finalised in September. All students who are eligible to access SNA support and for whom an application has been made, will have this support in place in September. The deployment of SNAs within schools is 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. It is important to note that each school's allocation of SNA support can change from year to year and may be increased or decreased as students who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school. New students with care needs may, or may not, enrol to replace students who have left, for example, or SNA allocations may be decreased where a child's care needs have diminished over time. There is always a significant churn of posts within the system.Details of the mechanism for schools/parents to appeal a decision in relation to the allocation of SNA support by the NCSE are available on the NCSE website at