Written answers

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Chris AndrewsChris Andrews (Dublin Bay South, Sinn Fein)
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485. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will ensure that a SNA application by a school (details supplied) will be reconsidered as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9868/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews. My Department does not have a role in making individual school determinations.

The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme is designed to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource. The deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management of the school. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated.

It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

In light of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the introduction of the new Frontloaded Allocation Model for SNAs for students in mainstream classes in primary and post -primary schools is to be deferred for a further year to the beginning of the 2022/23 school year.

In order to minimise disruption for schools, in the current circumstances, and to provide for continuity of allocations the following arrangements for the allocation of Special Needs Assistants for mainstream classes for the 2021/22 school year:

- Existing mainstream class SNA allocations in schools on 30 April 2021 will be maintained and will automatically rollover into the 2021/22 school year.

- No school will therefore receive an allocation less than that which they had on 30 April 2021.

- SNAs currently in mainstream settings can continue in post for the next school year in the normal way.

- Priority consideration will now be given by the NCSE to applications for increased support for the 2021/22 school year, in particular, applications from schools with no SNAs anddeveloping schools will be prioritised. Determinations will be made before 30 June. Other applications will be processed in order of date received.

- As in previous years, where circumstances change during the course of the 2021/22 school year that materially increase the level of care need in a school to the extent that the school can clearly demonstrate that it cannot be met within the existing SNA allocation, the school may apply to theNCSE for a review. Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website, www.ncse.ie/for-schools

The NCSE have published the SNA allocations on their website, www.ncse.ie.

SNA allocations for special classes and special schools are not included in this model of allocation and continue to be allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in the normal way.

Circular 0029/2021 has been published and advises schools of the arrangements for the allocation of SNAs for the 2021/22 school year.

Provisions set out in Circular 0030/2020 has been extended for the 2021/22 school year.

Circulars 29/2021 and 30/2020 are available on the Gov.ie website, www.gov.ie/en/circulars/?organisation=department-of-education

Under this allocation model, the SNA allocation to a school 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. There is a prescribed special class to SNA ratio.

ASD special classes have an allocation of 1 teacher and 2 SNA posts to cater for the educational and care needs of 6 students. Additional SNA support may also be sanctioned by the NCSE where there are individual children who have significant care needs which require support above the level of support already sanctioned to the school.

As the question relates to the allocation of supports by the NCSE, your correspondence has been forwarded to the NCSE for direct reply.

The NCSE have confirmed that an application for additional SNA support has been received from the school (as outlined in the details supplied) and that the SENO will be in contact with the school to arrange a visit after the mid-term break to progress the application.

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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486. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to increase further the number of SNAs for the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9869/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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Budget 2021 provided an additional 990 Special Needs Assistants.

This resulted in 18,004 SNAs having been allocated to schools by 31stDecember 2021

Budget 2022 provides funding for an additional 1,165 SNAs (in 2022) to provide support to children with special educational needs, which will bring the total number of SNAs to 19,169 at the end of December 2022.

Provision for 19,169 SNAs as at 31stDecember 2022 will represent an increase of 81% since 2011 at which time 10,575 were provided.


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