Thursday, 7 July 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
60. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for special needs assistants that have been turned down; the number and percentage of schools that received less than the requested allocation of resource hours and SNAs for September 2011; the number of individual applications for resource hours and SNAs that have been refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19234/11]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It is considered that with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources that there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.
I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department’s criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools.
The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year. As this process is ongoing, it is not possible to provide details of the level of allocation of SNAs for schools for the coming school year. There has similarly been no overall reduction in the number of Resource Teaching posts in our education system.
In relation to the allocation of individual Resource Teaching hours, the position is that for the coming 2011/12 school year, an allocation of 90% of valid identified resource teaching allocations has been made by the NCSE to schools, in the first instance, to provide schools with the majority of their allocation, while also preserving enough capacity to deal with late applications and ensure that the Department of Education and Skills can remain within Employment Control Framework obligations. Schools have been asked to forward as soon as possible any outstanding applications, or additional outstanding materials to support incomplete applications, to the NCSE for consideration, but in any event by no later than 16th September 2011. Following consideration of all of the applications received, if the level of demand permits, the initial 90% allocation may be revisited and increased.
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