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Special Educational Needs

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 2 June 2022

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Ceisteanna (287)

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

287. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Education if her Department is reviewing when the SNA allocations are released; if the information will be released earlier in the school year to reduce the stress caused by school leaders and SNAs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28804/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The number of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in our schools is at unprecedented levels.

Budget 2022 provides for an additional 1,165 SNAs to provide support to children with special educational needs. This will bring the total number of SNAs to 19,169 by the end of 2022. This represents an increase of 81% in SNA numbers since 2011 when 10,575 SNAs were working in our schools. 

The availability of SNAs is critical to the inclusion of students with significant care needs in education and in school life. 

SNAs carry out very important care functions for children with care needs in the school.  The purpose of their role is to enable children with significant care needs to attend school and participate in school activities to the maximum possible extent. 

The purpose of the SNAs in the classroom is to address the immediate physical care needs of the student and encourage their independence.  Over time, with their assistance and support, students will become more independent and self-autonomous in these matters.  

SNAs are whole school resources to be allocated to meet the needs of those students in greatest need.   

A key consideration in the allocation of SNAs is to ensure that those students with the greatest level of care needs receive the most support. This is a key principle underlying Department policy on special education. The allocation system must be objective and fair with the capacity to take account of local and individual circumstances. 

The availability of SNAs is critical to the inclusion of students with significant care needs in education and in school life. And the Department of Education is anxious to ensure that schools and stakeholders are aware of the SNA allocations for the 2022/23 school year at the earliest.

For this reason the Department has committed to providing schools with that clarity each year in May.

 Schools have maintained their SNA allocations since 2019 and in addition an average of 1,000 SNAs per annum have been allocated to schools since that time in 2020 and again in 2021.

The Department will continue to work with education partners and staff representatives to provide the SNA allocations to schools at the earliest possible date.  

The SNA allocations for all schools for the 2022/23 school year were published on the 31st May and are available on the NCSE website 

SET Hours and SNA Allocations – National Council for Special Education (ncse.ie).

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