Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Noel GrealishNoel Grealish (Galway West, Independent)
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268. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when applications for the July provision programme will open; if she will provide details of the application process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17176/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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My Department ran an expanded summer education programme for Summer 2021, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this expansion, students with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage had access to an enhanced summer programme of education. The total funding available to provide the programme was €40 million, which was a one hundred per cent increase on the allocation for summer provision in 2020.

The programme’s aims were to support pupils to re-engage with education, to build their confidence and increase their motivation, promote wellbeing and for some who are at key transition stages, help to ensure they could move on to their planned educational placement for the start of the next school year along with their peers.

For the first time ever, all schools (primary and-post primary) were encouraged to provide summer programmes and the eligibility criteria was extended to include post-primary children with complex needs and children at risk of educational disadvantage. Prior to this expansion, summer programmes were only available to special schools and pupils in special classes in primary schools and in DEIS schools. Overall, 37,977 pupils participated in the 2021 summer programme across both home and school-based elements, which represented an increase of 65% on participation in the 2020 programme.

The aim for 2022 is to make the programmes as accessible as possible, particularly to continue to attract more schools to run the school-based programme, but also to make the overall experience simpler for parents, teachers and schools.

In this regard, planning for the 2022 Summer Programme is ongoing. As part of that process my Department is currently holding consultation meetings with the education partners. Details of the programme will be finalised as soon as possible after these meetings have concluded and will be communicated to all schools, as well as published on www.gov.ie

Photo of Marian HarkinMarian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent)
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269. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if a one-to-one SNA will be allocated to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17185/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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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 in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school. It should be noted that not every student with a special educational need requires SNA support.

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 was 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 were announced:

- Existing mainstream class SNA allocations in schools on 30 April 2021 were maintained and automatically rolled over into the 2021/22 school year.

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

- SNAs currently in mainstream settings can continue in post for the 2021/22 school year in the normal way.

- Priority consideration was given by the NCSE to applications for increased support for the 2021/22 school year. In particular, applications from schools with no SNAs and developing schools were prioritised with determinations made before 30 June. Other applications were 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 the NCSE for a review. Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website, ncse.ie/for-schools.


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