Special education is a priority, as outlined in the previous answer. The Department's policy aims to ensure that all children with special needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in mainstream school settings, and where parents have chosen for the child to go to special classes, for which there are 125 facilities in total in the country, that choice is available.
Following the recent budget, €1.9 billion or about one fifth of the overall education budget will be invested in the provision of additional supports for children with special educational needs in 2020. The 800 were part of the previous budget, which brought the number to 16,000. We are now going from 16,000 to 17,000, which is a 61% increase since 2011.
This will include funding for an additional 1,064 SNA posts that will be available for allocation next September. This will support the extended roll-out of the new school inclusion model and ensure that students with additional needs get the right support at the right time as well as supporting the provision of up to 1,300 new special class places.
I am satisfied that the level of provision we have made in recent years has ensured that all children with special educational needs can participate in education and that most children with special needs have been able to be enrolled in the school or placement of their choice.
Remuneration for SNAs is set with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. SNAs benefit from the increases approved under public service pay agreements. The most recent increase in pay of 1.75% took effect from 1 September. Two further increases are scheduled for January 2020 and October 2020. Other matters relating to terms and conditions of employment, including claims, are managed through the established industrial relations structures.