Wednesday, 20th September 2017
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Minister of State John Halligan T.D. has announced the provision of an additional 11 Special Needs Assistants which will be available for allocation in Waterford schools over the period September to December 2017, in order to meet the level of assessed demand.

This increased allocation will bring the total number of Special Needs Assistants in Waterford to 325 and will result in additional special needs resources at schools across Waterford from September, according to Minister Halligan, as well as new special needs classes for pupils with Autism at Mount Sion and St Paul’s primary schools in the city and also Scoil Naomh Gobnait in Coolnasmear.

Annually, the number of Special Needs Assistants has increased by 32% across the country, from 10,575 to 13,990 since 2011, Minister Halligan noted:

“This increase reflects the growing participation of children with special educational needs and will support their full participation and progression within the educational system.

"Today’s announcement reflects the Programme for Government commitment to ensure that all children with special educational needs can maximise their potential.”

In 2017 the Department of Education and Skills will invest €1.68 billion in special educational needs, almost one fifth of the Department’s entire budget. This spend has increased by over 30% since 2011.

Minister for Education Richard Burton has announced that following the recent receipt of a progress report from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), on the Comprehensive Assessment of the SNA Scheme currently being undertaken by the NCSE, he has requested the NCSE to establish a working group, comprising relevant stakeholders, to assist in proposing an improved model for providing care supports to provide the best possible outcomes for students with special educational needs who have additional care needs. This Government is committed to providing the best possible outcomes for the children and students in this area, and this process is the best way of ensuring that we deliver on that.

This process in respect of SNAs follows a similar process which was led by the NCSE in respect of resource teachers, the other main support for children with special educational needs, over recent years, which culminated with the development and rollout of the new model of allocating resource teachers earlier this year. Investment in resource teachers has also increased very significantly since 2011. In broad terms, Special Needs Assistants are responsible for looking after the care needs of children with special needs, while resource teachers are responsible for supporting them in their educational needs.

This Working Group will commence its work upon its appointment and the work will run in tandem with the completion of the Comprehensive Assessment. It is intended that the reports of the Working group and of the Assessment will be completed in Spring 2018.

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