Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Special Educational Needs

10:50 am

Photo of Donnchadh Ó LaoghaireDonnchadh Ó Laoghaire (Cork South Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The Minister of State, too, has probably had these conversations with schools. Indeed, I recently saw her engage with the school in County Louth outside Leinster House. In schools that do not have enough SNAs, the SNAs are run from pillar to post, the children feel let down and their parents are frustrated that the children are not getting the supports they need. It harms the children’s development and their ability to thrive in school and to reach their full potential.

We have an issue with recruitment and retention. Every year, an allocation of 1,000 is announced but we never get there. In budget 2022, an allocation of 1,000 SNAs was announced, yet on budget day, 175 SNAs from the previous year's allocation still had not been allocated to schools. That is part of the problem. Some of it relates to their terms and conditions and how attractive the job is. People go into other jobs, they do not sign up to be an SNA and that is having an impact, even though the funding is available, on how many SNAs get into schools. Therefore, the children end up losing out. That is a big part of the problem and the Department needs to confront it.


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