Special Needs Assistants are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities, who have additional and significant care needs, in an educational context. They may be appointed to a special school or a mainstream school to assist school authorities in making suitable provision for a pupil or pupils with special care needs.
In June 2012, my Department, following consultation with the School Management Bodies and the relevant Trade Unions, issued a Career Break Scheme for Special Needs Assistants in Recognised Primary and Post-Primary Schools, the provisions for which are contained in Circular Letter 22/2012 which is available on my Departments website.
Paragraph 1.2 of the Circular states:
“The main objectives of this scheme below which are not exhaustive, is for employers, wherever possible to facilitate applicants in the areas of:
- Personal Development
- Education (including teacher training)
- Public Representation
- Childcare/Dependent care
The Career Break Scheme therefore is applicable to Special Needs Assistants who wish to pursue further education.
Paragraph 7.1 of the Circular states:
“The taking up of regular paid employment of any kind elsewhere in the State while on career break would be contrary to the objectives of the scheme and shall lead to refusal of an application or withdrawal of approval already given”.