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(Ireland) Irish Times: "RECORD 15,950 SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS ...IN COMING YEAR"

Updated: May 28, 2019

May 27, 2019, Irish Times: Schools to get 800 new special needs assistants https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/schools-to-get-800-new-special-needs-assistants-1.3904990 Almost 800 new special needs assistants are to be allocated to schools from September. The increased allocation reflects the fact that record numbers of children with special or additional needs are in mainstream education, as well as earlier diagnosis of underlying conditions. The announcement means there will be a record 15,950 special needs assistants in school in the coming year, supporting about 37,500 pupils. Under a new school inclusion model, the role of the SNA is set to broaden out from supporting care needs – such as toileting and feeding – to assisting with delivery of speech and language or occupational therapy. The approach is being piloted in 75 schools in Kildare and Wicklow from next September. If successful, it could lead to changes being applied to all SNAs,... “I look forward to applying this new model of support and the opportunity it affords for review and evaluations to ensure we are providing the most effective and efficient service to students in our schools who require additional supports.” Spending on special education now stands at about €1.9 billion, or a fifth of the overalleducation budget. The scale of investment has previously prompted concern within the Department of Public Expenditure over “rapidly escalating costs” and the fact that more is spent on special needs than higher education. However, Mr McHugh has welcomed the fact that more children with special educational needs than ever before are participating in school…