There has been a recent cabinet decision to approve up to 610 additional Special Needs Assistant posts from September 2015. The additional allocation follows a significant increase in assessed need, following which the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, has requested a review by her Department and the NCSE to ensure the SNA scheme is sustainable in meeting its objectives.
According to Minister O’Sullivan, “Every child with an assessed care need will receive access to SNA support. This is an important principle and will continue in the 2015/16 school year. To achieve that goal I today received sanction from Cabinet for up to an additional 610 SNA posts for allocation to schools from September. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will provide details of the allocations later today which can be accessed on www.ncse.ie”
Last year the Government provided for an additional 220 SNA posts for 2015. In advance of the school year starting in September the NCSE reviews the number of valid applications received and in recent weeks has reported an additional requirement of up to 610 posts above the October 2014 estimate. Approximately 55% of the additional posts will be provided to support students in mainstream classes while 45% of posts will serve students in special classes in mainstream schools or in special schools.
The Minister also announced that a review of the SNA scheme will be carried out to ensure that it is meeting its objectives and that best use is being made of the significant resources invested. Among the issues to be examined will be the reasons behind the significant increase in demand evident this year and how the timing of applications and allocations can be better aligned with the school year.