The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for processing applications from schools for special needs assistants (SNA) supports, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs). The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in making recommendations for support, which is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.
All schools were asked to apply for SNA support for the 2016/17 school year by 29th February 2016. The NCSE also continues to accept applications after that date, in recognition that enrolments may not have been completed or where assessments were not completed.
I announced on the 14th June, 2016 that 860 additional Special Needs Assistants will be available for allocation to schools from September 2016, which is a 7% increase on the existing availability. This will bring the total number of Special Needs Assistants to 12,900, at a total gross annual cost of €425 million.
This increase reflects the growing participation of children with Special Needs in education and will support their full participation and progression within the educational system. In total, the number of SNAs available has increased by almost 22% since 2011, when 10,575 posts were available.
The NCSE advised all schools of their allocations for SNA support for the coming 2016/17 school year on 14th June, 2016. Details of the allocations which have been made to schools have now been published on www.ncse.ie.
Where a school wishes to make an application for SNA support in respect of a child who was not considered as part of this allocation process they may continue to make such applications to the NCSE.
Where a school wishes to appeal the SNA allocation which has been made to them, they may do so through the NCSE appeal process, details of which are set out at www.ncse.ie.
All schools have the contact details of their local SENO, while Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available the NCSE website.
As the Deputy's question relates to an appeal of SNA allocation by the NCSE to a specific school, in respect of a particular pupil, I have referred this question to the NCSE for their consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.