Ardee Community School has seen it’s allocation of Special Needs Assistants increase in the latest round of government investment in additional SNAs for primary and post-primary schools.
The secondary school will have one additional SNA at the school during the new term, starting in September. Ardee Educate Together and the Monastery Boys NS school have also received increased allocations. Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire keeps it’s one assistant, while Ballapousta NS has received a decrease by the Department of Education.
In total, 975 extra Special Needs Assistants are being made available to schools around the country as the government look to cater for the increased number of pupils requiring specialist help. Since 2011, the number of students with special educational needs enrolling in mainstream schools has increased by 21%.
Twelve months ago, both Ardee Community School and Ardee Educate Together saw their SNA allowance increase and again, their numbers of specialist staff are increasing with the latest injection of state funds. On Wednesday afternoon, Minister for Education Richard Bruton announced the 7.5% increase.
in 2017, Ardee Community School’s alloted number of SNA’s rises from 6 to 7, with more help than ever now available to help those pupils that require assistance in the 2017/18 academic year.
Ardee Educate Together school currently has 6.32 assistants (the figure is broken down by hours required), with that figure rising to 7.49. There will be a slight rise in the SNA numbers at the Monastery NS Boys School (from 3.66 to 4) but no change at Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire (one) and a small decrease at Ballapousta NS (down 0.5 from one).
The Community School and Educate Together schools both house specialist ASD classrooms for autisic students.
The latest increase will bring the total number of Special Needs Assistants in Ireland to 13,990, at a total annual cost of €458m. The number of Special Needs Assistants has increased by 32% in the last six years.
The decision to announce the new SNA positions now will ensure sufficient time is available to recruit the assistants in time for the new school year. It is hoped this will allow children with special needs to enrol ahead of September with no issues regarding the availability of SNAs hanging over their enrolment.
Speaking at yesterday’s announcement, Minister Bruton said, “The aim of this Government is to continue to use our economic success to ensure that children with special educational needs can be supported to fully participate in schools and fulfil their potential.
“In the worst years of the crash, when the public purse declined massively, investment in special education was not only rightly protected, but it was significantly increased – the increase in total investment in this area has been more than 30% since 2011. It is essential that we continue to provide for children with special educational needs so they can reach their full potential,” he continued.
“Special needs assistants have continued to play a key role in helping children to participate and progress. The extra posts I am announcing today will ensure that every child that needs access to SNA support can receive this support. That is my priority.”
Ardee councillor Dolores Minogue also expressed her delight at the increase. “I welcome the news and I am delighted for the children, parents and schools who all will benefit greatly from this announcement.”
The SNA increases come after 900 new resource teachers were made available to schools for the upcoming academic year, drastically improving the amount of contact hours children who require specialist learning can get, outside of regular class.