Budget 2021 provided for an additional 990 additional SNAs for allocation to schools, bringing the total numbers to 18,000 by December 2020. This allocation of SNAs is to meet the care needs of pupils in 2021 and will enable the establishment of new special classes, creation of new places in special schools, support children in mainstream classes and the transition to the new allocation model for the 2021/22 school year.
There are currently 16,969 Special Needs Assistants allocated to schools. Budget 2021 increase to 18,000 Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts represents an increase of increase of 70% in the number of SNAs provided since 2011 at which point 10,575 SNAs were available.
A new model for allocating Special Needs Assistants to primary and post primary schools for students in mainstream classes only was to be introduced in the 2020/21 school year as part of the phased roll out of the School Inclusion Model (SIM).
In light of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis the Frontloaded Allocation Model for Special Needs Assistants was deferred until the beginning of the 2021/22 school year.
As it was too late to run the traditional applications-based process for the allocation model, special arrangements were put in place to facilitate SNA allocations for mainstream classes the 2020/21 school year. The arrangements did not impact on the way SNAs are allocated to special classes and special schools.
The SNA allocation that applied to mainstream classes were frozen from the date of issue of Circular 0030/2020 and automatically rolled over into the 2020/21 school year.
Schools can apply to the NCSE for additionality, by way of an exceptional review process, where they can demonstrate that the current allocation does not meet additional care needs within the mainstream classes in the school.
Further advice will issue in the course of the 2020/21 school year on the introduction of the frontloaded model with effect from September 2021. This will outline the overall approach, including the professional development and other supports to be made available for schools and teachers.