Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs Staff
184. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider increasing the number of special needs assistants for schools in view of the expected increases in mental health and development needs of school children due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10624/20]
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 roll over 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.
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.