Written answers

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Department of Education and Skills

School Staff

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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387. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide the necessary resources to a school (details supplied) in order that it can provide a full-time special needs assistant to a student; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31482/22]

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 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.

The NCSE have confirmed that the school in question recently requested a review of their SNA allocation and that the SENO completed the in-school review. The review resulted in an increased SNA allocation to the school and sanction letter confirming the increase was issued to the school by the NCSE on 28/04/2022.

When a school has been allocated an SNA, the Board of Management, as the employer, is responsible for filling the vacancy.

In relation to SNA support the NCSE have confirmed that the school has an allocation of SNA support to provide support for children with primary care needs.

The following arrangements for the allocation of SNA support in respect of students in mainstream classes for 2022/23 will apply:

a) The SNA allocations for mainstream classes in schools on 31st May 2022 will be maintained for 2022/23. This will provide greater certainty for schools.

b) A process for schools, whereby if they consider their SNA allocation is in excess of the required care needs, to engage with the NCSE. Schools should contact their local NCSE Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) to commence the process.

c) The exceptional review process undertaken by NCSE will remain in place throughout the 2022/23 school year, where schools can seek a review of their SNA allocations which will result in one of the following outcomes:

i. No change in the level of care need identified (and no change in the resultant SNA allocation);

ii. Increase in the level of care need identified (which if significant would see an increase in the SNA allocations to the schools) ;

iii. Decrease in level of care need identified in the school (which if significant would result in a reduction in SNA allocations as the care need could be managed with less resources than are currently allocated); In relation to outcome iii, the SNA allocation will be adjusted at the end of the relevant school term.

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 circulars.gov.ie/pdf/circular/education/2014/30.pdf .

Following such a review and reprioritisation, it is expected that a small number of schools, e.g. developing schools, may not have a sufficient SNA allocation to meet the needs of their students. These schools can apply to the NCSE for an Exceptional Review of their allocation.

Detailed information of the NCSE Exceptional Review process is published on the NCSE website. ncse.ie/application-for-sna-exceptional-review .

The NCSE will endeavour to respond to all applications for Exceptional Review received as expediently as possible and in that regard, it will prioritise applications from schools with no current SNA allocation and developing schools. The Exceptional Review process for mainstream allocations will be available to schools throughout the 2022/23 school year.

The NCSE has developed an appeal mechanism for schools who are not satisfied with the outcome of the Exceptional Review. Local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) will provide information and clarification to schools on the outcome where requested. Where schools wish to appeal the outcome of the review, they must do so using the prescribed form provided by the NCSE ncse.ie/ncse-appeals-process.

The NCSE have published the SNA allocations for the 2022/23 school year and they are available atncse.ie/set-hours-and-sna-allocations.

All schools have the contact details of their local SENO, and the SENO is available to offer assistance and advice to the school. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie .


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