The Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme (SNAs) was published by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in 2018. The Review made a number of recommendations regarding SNAs including the need for training.
A new national training programme for SNAs currently employed in recognised schools was developed on foot of the Review's recommendations. Following a public procurement process, University College Dublin (UCD) School of Education, in conjunction with UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, were selected to develop and deliver this important educational initiative. UCD's wide-ranging experience and expertise will enable the delivery of a broad-ranging and high-quality programme. This programme began in January 2021 with 500 participants in the first year. Priority was given to SNAs working in School Inclusion Pilot Schools. In total, there are 3,500 places available on the programme over the next four years.
This major educational initiative will enhance the knowledge, skills and expertise of SNAs whose work is central to the inclusion of students with additional care and complex needs in school life. For some SNAs, this programme may present the first opportunity in recent times for them to engage with the theory and research based best practice underlying their role. Completion of the programme may serve as a stepping stone to further education opportunities in the area.
Each participant who completes the programme successfully will receive a certificate from UCD School of Education.
There is no cost to serving SNAs working in schools. This course is fully funded by the Department of Education and Skills.