The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, has announced the provision of 975 additional Special Needs Assistants which will be available for allocation to schools over the period September to December 2017, a 7.5% increase, in order to meet the level of assessed demand. Special Needs Assistants are responsible for looking after the care needs of children with special needs, while resource teachers are responsible for supporting them in their educational needs.
This will bring the total number of Special Needs Assistants to 13,990, at a total gross annual cost of €458m. The number of Special Needs Assistants has increased by 32%, from 10,575 to 13,990 since 2011. This increase reflects the growing participation of children with special educational needs and will support their full participation and progression within the educational system. The number of Special Classes has increased by 120% with over 600 new special classes opened since 2011, bringing the total number of such classes to over 1,100.
The new model for allocating Resource Teachers to schools has been successfully introduced, with 900 additional teacher allocated from September 2017 to support the model and to ensure that children with special needs can access additional teaching supports.
The Minister also announced that following the recent receipt of a progress report from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), on the Comprehensive Assessment of the SNA Scheme currently being undertaken by the NCSE, he has requested the NCSE to establish a working group, comprising relevant stakeholders, to assist in proposing an improved model for providing care supports to provide the best possible outcomes for students with special educational needs who have additional care needs.
The NCSE will now proceed to notify schools of their SNA allocations for the coming 2017/18 school year and will publish details of these allocations on their website www.ncse.ie.