Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs Staff

Darren O'Rourke (Meath East, Sinn Fein)
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265. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the specific proposals and timeline to increase the number of special needs assistants at a school (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the school has been allocated one SNA to cater for the needs of four children in three different classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3275/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

At the end of 2019 there were approximately 15,950 SNAs working in our schools, an increase of over 51% since 2011.

As this query relates to an application for SNA support in a particular school, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply.  As Minister, I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

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