Nov 20, 2017, The Irish Times: State plays catch-up with spending boost for special needs https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/state-plays-catch-up-with-spending-boost-for-special-needs-1.3297635 It looks alarming on paper. Spending on higher education has climbed by almost half a billion euro since 2011, an increase of about 40 per cent. The number of teachers in special classes has jumped from 600 in 2011 to more than 1,700 next year. Over the same time frame, the number of special needs assistants has risen from just over 10,000 to almost 14,000 next year. This all comes at a cost: in fact, the State is investing more in special education than in all of higher education. It’s little wonder that Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe – whose job is to keep public spending under control – is concerned . So, what’s driving these dramatic increases? • First, the school population has changed. More and more children with special needs – who once might have been in special schools, residential care or simply left at home – are in the mainstream education system. This is because education policy has shifted from segregating children to integrating them within regular schools with supports or in special classes. Research links greater inclusion to better outcomes.