*(Ireland) "A huge jump in the budget for special needs education"

July 21, 2017, The Irish Times: Government alarmed by rising cost of special needs education New study says a spike in the number of autism cases is a factor in increased spending A sharp increase in the numbers of school pupils diagnosed with autism since 2011 is among the factors that has led to a huge jump in the budget for special needs education, according to a Government report. The report has prompted alarm about the rising costs in Government. A spending review carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure published yesterday finds that spending on special educational needs now accounts for almost one-fifth of the total education budget. Spending on special education has grown by almost half a billion euros since 2011, a rise of 38 per cent. In the period since 2004, spending on the area has grown by 260 per cent. Special needs education now costs the exchequer more than third-level education. Almost 90 per cent of special education funding goes on pay for teachers and special needs assistants. Concerns about the costs and efficiency of the special needs assistants (SNAs) scheme have prompted the department to order a comprehensive review of the scheme, which is due to be completed next year. The number of SNAs has grown from 2,988 in 2001 to more than 13,000, an increase of 336 per cent. Expenditure on the scheme has grown by almost 1,300 per cent.

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