Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, has announced the provision of 800 additional Special Needs Assistants which will be allocated to schools for the beginning of the next school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated over the period September to December 2018, an over 7% increase on last year, in order to meet the level of assessed demand.
Following on from today’s allocation, there will be a total of 15,000 Special Needs Assistants working in schools in Ireland. This is a 42% increase on 2011, when the number of SNAs stood at 10,575. The Government now invests €524m in SNAs annually, as part of a total €1.75 billion investment in special educational needs overall. In 2011, 22,284 children had access to SNA support, with the addition, an estimated 36,000 pupils will receive such support.
In September 2016, the National Council for Special Education were requested to lead a comprehensive review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme to identify and recommend how, in the future, additional care needs of students, over and above those needs that could be reasonable expected to be managed by teaching staff, should be met and to identify and recommend the most appropriate form of support options to provide better outcomes for students with Special Educational Needs who have additional care needs having regard to the significant amount of State investment in this area. The NCSE has submitted that full and final report of the SNA Comprehensive Review to the Department and its contents are currently under consideration.
Speaking from Leugh National School in Thurles, Tipperary Minister Bruton said:
“More children with Special Educational Needs are participating than ever before and we are investing more than ever before to support this. In 2018 the Department of Education will invest in the region of €1.75 billion in special education, almost one fifth of the entire education budget and 39% increase on 2011.
The NCSE will now proceed to notify schools of their SNA allocations for the coming 2018/19 school year and will publish details of these allocations on their website www.ncse.ie.