Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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270. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children whose special education needs are accommodated with special supports at primary and at secondary level; and the number of resource teachers, SNAs and other support staff, the most recent year and for representative years over the past twenty years. [28678/24]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Deputy for the question.

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education is a priority for this government. It is also a key priority for my department and for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

The vast majority of children with special educational needs are supported to attend mainstream classes with their peers. Where children with more complex needs require additional supports, special classes and special school places are provided.

As the deputy is aware the allocation of Special Education Teaching and Special Needs Assistant resources are allocated as a school resource and not to individual pupils.

When special education resources are allocated to schools based on their profile of need, it does not dictate what child receives support. The deployment of resources within a school is the responsibility of the Board of Management and the school

All schools must deploy their SET resources in line with the continuum of support. Primacy within the continuum of support is that the child with the greatest level of need is provided with the greatest level of support.

The data on supports provided to pupils is currently maintained at individual school level and is not available at education system level.

It is important to note that SET hours and SNA posts are only two components of support for children in mainstream but the most important support is the mainstream class teacher. The pupil teacher ratio at primary level is now 23:1 which means there are more mainstream teachers than ever before in our educational system.

For 2024 €2.7 billion is being spent on special education, an increase of €113 million, and this is dedicated to providing supports for children with special educational needs.

This includes funding to support children with special educational needs in mainstream classes; funding for new special classes and new special school places; additional special educational teachers, special needs assistants(SNAs) and funding for the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)

At present for the 2024/25 school year there is a total in excess of 14,600 SET teachers allocated to mainstream schools and this will increase to approx. 14,750, an increase of in excess of 51% on 2011 number, ahead of the start of the 2024/25 school year when the projected enrolments post process is complete.

In 2024, the number of SNA posts in our schools will increase by 1,216. This will mean we will have over 21,700 SNA posts available to support the care needs of students with special educational needs.

The following table outlines the change in the level of resources allocated to schools at representative years as requested.

Year SET SNA
2009 9,323 10,342
2012 9,740 10,487
2015 11,836 11,154
2020 13,529 15,948
2024 14,638 21,700
% increase in the period 57.01% 109.82%

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