Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (227)

Catherine Martin

Question:

227. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated number of extra special needs assistants that would be needed in order to ensure there is a SNA for each class at primary and post-primary level; the estimated cost of such an increase in provision for primary and post-primary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50081/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support will receive access to such support. This policy ensures that children with special educational needs continue to participate in education and be supported in a manner appropriate to their needs. The SNA Scheme has been a major factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs in to mainstream education and the provision of support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes.

In line with this policy, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible 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 enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

Budget 2020 has provided for 1,064 additional SNAs posts, for allocation in 2020, which will bring the total number of SNA posts in schools to over 17,000 in 2020, an increase of over 60% since 2011 at a cost in the region of €600m next year.

Given the current policy on the allocation of SNAs, based on identified needs of students and not staffing per class, the information sought by the Deputy is not readily available in my Department.