Thursday, 12 May 2022
Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh – Priority Questions
Special Educational Needs
I thank Deputy Ó Ríordáin for raising this important matter. Suffice to say that the timeline for SNA allocations is always May. Work is ongoing at present on the SNA allocations and they will be announced this month, as promised. There will be no deviation from that, and certainty will be given to SNAs and schools in terms of their re-allocation.
We are specifically talking about the front-loading allocation. The Deputy will be aware that it was delayed as a result of Covid, and it was put back again to the 2022-23 school year. It will be in operation from September of this year. It will be a very positive development for schools and for SNAs. The Deputy says the Department has not given them much respect. The lives of SNAs will improve dramatically over the years to come. Even at present, when we look at the SNA training programme in UCD, for example, which was the first ever training programme, it is a ten-month programme encompassing five different modules.
Approximately 3,500 students are availing of it and the outcomes have been positive. We will examine what we can do for those SNAs in the future. By the end of this year, we will have 19,169 SNAs, an increase of 81% since 2011. This year, in the budget an additional 1,165 SNAs will be allocated to schools. Some 574 of those will be in special classes, 46 will be in special schools and 545 will be in mainstream schools. SNAs are critical to the lives of children in schools, whether in mainstream special class or special school.