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Special Educational Needs Staff

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 11 July 2018

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Ceisteanna (206)

Michael Moynihan


206. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school must accept the recommendations of a special educational needs organisor, SENO, in relation to the allocation of SNA hours; if the final decision regarding the allocation of SNA hours rests with the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31127/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible 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.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE 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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

My Department’s policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing SNA support will receive access to such support. In line with this policy, I announced in May 2018 that 800 additional SNAs will be allocated for the beginning of the next school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated by the end of the year.

By the end of this year, there will be a total of 15,000 Special Needs Assistants working in our schools, a 42% increase on 2011.

The deployment of SNAs within a school is a matter for the school. Under Section 15 of Circular 30/2014, schools are required to put in place a Personal Pupil Plan (PPP) including a care plan for all pupils availing of SNA support. Schools who employ SNAs must have a clear policy in place, as part of the school planning process to manage and deploy SNAs.

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 support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2018/19, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE. The closing date for receipt of any appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday, 28th September 2018.