May 30, 2018, (Ireland) Irish Times: Special needs assistants to take on new roles under reform plan https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/special-needs-assistants-to-take-on-new-roles-under-reform-plan-1.3513828 Education authorities insist a major overhaul of the special needs assistant (SNA) scheme in schools will improve outcomes for young people and is not a cover for cost-cutting. Almost 35,000 students with additional care needs - such as autism - are currently supported by more than 14,000 special needs assistants to attend school each day. The Department of Public Expenditure has previously expressed concern over “rapidly escalating” costs which have jumped by more than third in the past five years to half a billion euro…. The proposed changes follow an 18-month review of the scheme, along with consultation The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals said the council’s proposals were a “ huge leap forward” by recognising the wide range of supports required by students. However, the group’s director Clive Byrne said funding must be prioritised and ring-fenced. with schools, parents, policy-makers and students.