Plans for almost 1,000 extra Special Needs Assistants in Irish schools

This will bring the total number of SNAs to 13,990

Plans for almost 1,000 extra Special Needs Assistants in Irish schools

Education Minister Richard Bruton at Government Buildings talking to the media as he announced the allocation of 975 Special Needs Assistants | Image: RollingNews.ie

Education Minister Richard Bruton has announced that 975 additional Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) will be available to schools later this year.

This will cover the period from September to December to meet the level of assessed demand.

This will bring the total number of SNAs to 13,990, at an annual cost of €458m.

The number of assistants has increased by 32% - from 10,575 to 13,990 - since 2011.

The minister says this increase reflects the growing participation of children with special educational needs, and "will support their full participation and progression within the educational system".

The Department of Education will invest €1.68bn in special educational needs this year - almost one-fifth of the department's entire budget.

It says this spend has increased by over 30% since 2011.

Better care supports

Minister Bruton has also requested the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) establish a working group to assist in proposing an improved model for providing care supports for students with special educational needs who have additional care needs.

The group will begin its work upon its appointment and it is intended that it will report back in Spring 2018.

Minister Bruton said: "It is essential that we continue to provide for children with special educational needs so they can reach their full potential.

"I measure success in this area by looking at the number of children with SEN that are fully participating and progressing through the school system.

"More children with Special Educational Needs are participating than ever before and we are investing more than ever before to support this.

"Today I am very pleased that 975 additional Special Needs Assistants will be available to allocate to schools by the end of this year.

"That’s a 7.5% increase to meet the demands for the new school year. It brings the total number of SNAs to nearly 14,000 - the highest ever number of SNAs."