Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs Staff

Patrick Costello (Dublin South Central, Green Party)
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317. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of each 250 new special needs assistants recruited. [6538/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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My Department's policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support will receive access to such support.  

In 2019, in the region of €1.9 billion was invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget. Budget 2020 has provided for 1,064 additional SNAs posts, for allocation in 2020, which will bring the total number of SNA posts in schools to over 17,000 in 2020, an increase of over 60% since 2011. The additional cost of these posts is €13 million and the provisional 2020 total allocation to SNA pay is €602 million. 

The pay at entry of a new entrant Special Needs Assistant, inclusive of employer PRSI, is €27,674 so the estimated cost of 250 SNAs would be €6,918,500.

Patrick Costello (Dublin South Central, Green Party)
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318. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new special needs assistants that will be recruited to deal with children and young persons on their return to school in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. [6539/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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Budget 2020 has provided for 1,064 additional SNAs posts, for allocation in 2020, which will bring the total number of SNA posts in schools to over 17,000 in 2020, an increase of over 60% since 2011.

Schools have been notified of the arrangements for the allocation of SNA support in respect of students in mainstream classes for 2020/21.  The arrangements include the following provisions:

- 2019/20 mainstream class SNA allocations will be frozen, from the date of issue of Circular 0030/2020, and will automatically rollover into the 2020/21 school year. This means that no school will receive an allocation less than that which they have on the date of issue of this Circular and existing SNAs currently in standard SNA posts can continue in these posts for the next school year in the normal way.  

- Schools may apply to the NCSE for additionality where they can demonstrate that the current allocation does not meet additional care needs within the mainstream classes in the school. Applications for additionality arising from significant new or emerging additional care needs, which cannot be catered within existing allocations, will be dealt with by way of an exceptional review process. 

- A diagnosis of a disability, or a psychological or other professional report, will not be necessary for this process.  

- The role of the SNA to support the care needs of students in mainstream classes, as set out in Circular 0030/2014, remains unchanged.  

- It is expected that schools will review and reprioritise the deployment of SNAs within mainstream settings and allocate resources to ensure those with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support. Providing access to SNA support continues to be based on primary care needs as outlined in DES Circular 0030/2014. 

Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.  

The NCSE will endeavour to respond to all applications for exceptional review received prior to 22nd May 2020 by 30th June 2020 and in that regard, it will prioritise applications from schools with no current SNA allocation and developing schools.  

Applications for an Exceptional Review received after 22 May 2020 will continue to be processed once all other applications have been completed.

The exceptional review process for mainstream allocations will be available to schools throughout the 2020/21 school year.

A new frontloading model for allocating Special Needs Assistants to primary and post primary schools for students in mainstream classes only was to be introduced in the 2020/21 school year as part of the phased roll out of the School Inclusion Model (SIM). Due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 public health crisis, the introduction of the model has been deferred for one year.

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