Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (238)

Louise O'Reilly


238. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the new ratio for special needs assistants, SNAs, to be allocated to schools (details supplied); the way in which it will be calculated; and the way in which it will work in practice. [21424/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

On 27th March I announced the trialling of the School Inclusion Model – a new model of support for students with special educational and additional care needs.

The School Inclusion Model, supported by €4.75m funding allocated in Budget 2019, aims to build schools’ capacity to include children with additional needs and to provide other supports for pupils.

The achievement of better education and life outcomes for all children including those with special needs is a key element of Government policy. In 2019, over €1.87 billion will be invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget, and up 49% since 2011.

Seventy-five schools, both primary and post-primary, in Kildare, Wicklow and South Dublin have been invited to participate in this new package of education and health supports to be piloted and evaluated in the 2019/20 school year.

One feature of the School Inclusion Model is the development of a frontloaded allocation model of SNAs to be allocated in line with profiled need having regard to the approach taken by the allocation model for Special Education Teachers which was introduced in 2017.

Frontloading SNA support eliminates the need for an individual assessment for each student, ending the link with the requirement for a formal diagnosis to gain access to support, and will reduce the delays in making supports available to schools.

Work on the development of the frontloading methodology for the allocation of SNAs is progressing in consultation with the Educational Research Centre.