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 allocating special educational needs supports, including Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and Resource Teaching support to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.
This year, 12,040 SNAs are available for allocation to primary and secondary schools, to the end of the 2015/16 school year, which is an increase of almost 14% in the number of posts available since 2011. In the same period the number of children accessing SNA support has grown from approximately 22,000 to some 30,000 by the end of 2015.
The increase in SNA numbers has been supported by a very significant increase in the Budget for SNAs, rising from €332 million in 2011 to €402 million by the end of 2015.
This is a higher level of SNA support than ever before, and has ensured that all children with special educational needs who qualify for access to SNA support, in accordance with the terms of my Departments criteria, as set out in DES Circular 30/2014, have been able to access such support.
Separately, the NCSE allocates additional resource teaching hours to schools for children who have been assessed within the low incidence, or more complex, category of special need. Budget 2016 made additional provision, increasing the number from 6705 at the end of 2015 to 6852 at the end of June 2016, which is an increase of 29% over the numbers allocated since 2011.
Provision has been made for 7452 posts to the end of 2016.
This additional provision has meant that resource teaching allocations have been provided to schools in respect of all children who have qualified for resource teaching support, in accordance with the terms of my Departments criteria which are set out in DES Circular 02/05.
All schools were asked to apply for Resource Teaching and SNA support for the 2016/17 school year by 29th February, 2016. The NCSE continues to accept applications in recognition that enrolments may not have been completed or where assessments were not completed. The NCSE will consider these applications and make further allocations to schools in respect of valid applications which have been received to September.
The NCSE advised schools of their resource teaching allocations for the 2016/17 school year in May of this year and will advise all schools of their allocations for SNA support for 2016/17 as soon as possible in advance of the coming school year.
As the Deputy's question relates to the number of invalid applications received by the NCSE for resource hours and SNA support I have referred this question to the NCSE for their consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.