Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ceisteanna (76, 77)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

74 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants allocated in each year since 1997, including the number to be allocated for the 2012-13 school year. [34073/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

75 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants allocated during the 2011-12 school year compared to what was provided for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34074/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Skills)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.

Firstly I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports including Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

There are 10,575 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) SNA posts available for allocation in the 2012/13 school year which is the same number of posts which were available for allocation for the 2011/12 school year. The NCSE is currently notifying schools of their SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and the extent of the care needs of qualifying children. The NCSE allocated a total of 10,324 WTE SNA posts to schools in the 2011/12 school year. Every child who met the criteria for access to SNA support in the 2011/12 school year received this support. Similarly, it is expected that the demand for SNA support in the coming school year can be met within current numbers and that all children who meet the criteria for SNA support will have access to such support.

The specific information requested by the Deputy for 2001 to 2011 is provided in the following table. Accurate information before 2001 is not available but I can advise the Deputy that there were approximately 300 SNAs employed in schools in 1997. Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that this Government has demonstrated its commitment to protecting services for children with special educational needs by maintaining the overall number of SNA posts which will be available for allocation to schools for the 2012/13 school year, at a time when there has been a requirement to make savings across a range of expenditure areas.

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants 2001-2009

2001

2,988

2002

4,979

2003

5,367

2004

5,869

2005

7,294

2006

8,390

2007

9,824

2008

10,442

2009

10,342

2010

10,543

2011

10,324