Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
130. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 451 of 22 February 2022, if she will ensure that a school (details supplied) which had an allocation of two SNAs for four children during the 2021-2022 academic year will have its allocation increased for the next academic year to reflect the fact that there will be seven children in need of support from an SNA in the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11849/22]
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.
Very significant levels of financial provision are made to ensure that all children with special educational needs can be provided with an education appropriate to their needs.
The State currently spends approximately €2 Billion - almost a quarter - of its annual educational and training budget on making additional provision for children with special educational needs.
Budget 2022 announced details of €9.2 billion in funding for education and includes an allocation of 1,165 SNAs to meet the care needs of pupils in 2022 and will also enable the establishment of new special classes, creation of new places in special schools, support children in mainstream classes for the 2022/23 school year. This will bring the total number of SNAs to 19,169.This represents an increase of 81% in the number of SNAs provided since 2011 at which point 10,575 SNAs were available.
The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews.
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 the NCSE for a review. Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website ncse.ie/for-schools.
Work is underway in relation to the SNA allocations for the 2022/23 school year. All stakeholders will be advised when the SNA allocation process has been completed and this will be done in line with previous years in May.