The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.
The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed. My Department’s policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing SNA support will receive access to such support.
In considering applications for SNA supports for individual pupils, the SENOs take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources. SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.
The deadline for applying for SNA support for the 2018/19 school year was extended from 28 February to 7 March 2018 due to the effects of adverse weather. The NCSE continue to accept applications for SNA Support after this date and these will be processed according to the date of receipt. The NCSE aim to respond to valid applications received later this month.
The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support on the grounds that Department policy was not met in accordance with Circular 0030/2014.
Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA supports to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.
As the question to which the Deputy refers relates to a specific school, the matter will be referred to the NCSE for direct reply.