May 18, 2018, (Ireland) Irish Times: 1,000 extra special needs assistants to be allocated to schools—Increase in children with special needs in mainstream schools requiring support https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/1-000-extra-special-needs-assistants-to-be-allocated-to-schools-1.3499304 Almost 1,000 extra special needs assistants (SNAs) are to be allocated to schools in the autumn to help meet the needs of vulnerable students. Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the increased numbers were required to meet the level of demand from children who need extra supports in class. “Today’s announcement will ensure every child who needs SNA support, will receive it,” Mr Bruton said. He said 800 additional SNAs will be allocated to schools for the beginning of the next school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated over the period September to December 2018. This means there will be a total of 15,000 SNAs working in our schools, a 42 per cent increase on 2011. Investment in special education – which stands at about €1.7 billion – now accounts for a fifth of the overall education budget. The SNA scheme accounts for almost €525 million of this. The increased investment has sparked concern from the Department of Public Expenditure over the “rapidly escalating” costs. September ***Internal briefing material prepared for Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe ahead of the 2018 budget expressed alarm that special education supports now cost more than the entire higher education system…. In addition to the growth of SNAs, the number of special classes has increased by almost 140 per cent since 2011. There are now some 1,300 special classes in mainstream schools, with an additional 155 special classes due to open in the coming school year. A new model for allocating resource teachers to schools has been introduced, with 900 additional teacher allocated from September 2017 to support the model and to ensure that children with special needs can access additional teaching supports.