Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
1045. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will review the reduction of allocation from 14.5 special needs assistants, SNAs, to 12.5 in a school (details supplied) and the reduction from six to four SNAs allocated to one of its centres, given the particular circumstances of the school and the impact the reduction will have in enabling pupils in the special classes to participate in mainstream classes. [30590/22]
The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews.
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.
SNA support is allocated to special classes and special schools by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). The NCSE have published the SNA allocations on their website www.ncse.ie.
Under the allocation model for special classes and special schools, the SNA allocation 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. In such circumstances, the school may apply to the NCSE for access to additional care supports, clearly outlining the reason why the additional support is necessary.
Detailed information on the NCSE Exceptional Review process is published on the NCSE website, ncse.ie/application-for-sna-exceptional-review.
My Department does not have a role in making individual school determinations and the school should liaise with the NCSE directly in the event that additional supports are required.