Dáil debates

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Financial Resolutions 2021 - Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed)

 

5:10 pm

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)

I am very pleased to mark one of the largest special education budgets we have ever seen in the history of the State and a really big investment in core education supports. Next year we will spend in excess of €2 billion, or more than 20% of the entire departmental budget, on special education, representing a 50% increase since 2011. Budget 2022 will provide 980 special education teachers and 1,165 new SNAs to schools next year. These new posts will allow us to meet demand for new school and special class places and provide additional supports for students currently in school.

I have asked the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, to use the resources we have now secured to ensure we deliver these special class places around the country at both primary and post-primary level and to ensure all available places are given to children with additional needs. We have the resources to deliver 287 new special classes, which amounts to 1,700 new special class places, as well as 140 new special school places. I am absolutely determined to deliver on these. We will also change teaching principals to administrative principals for 36 mainstream schools and four special schools, which will be of major assistance in the management of those schools.

This budget is a very strategic response in planning and providing additional teaching supports into the future. By the end of 2022 there will be 14,394 special education teacher posts, an increase of 10% from 2017. By the end of 2022 there will be 19,169 SNAs in our schools and the number of special classes in schools throughout the country will be over 2,400, which is an all-time high. This is a sector dealing with children with additional needs who have suffered immeasurably during the pandemic. Along with the supports we have put in place, including the supplementary scheme, the expanded summer provision and the Covid-19 learning and support scheme, I am determined that we will continue with that momentum to look after this vulnerable group in our society.

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