Thursday, 29 September 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
78. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the special needs assistance provision for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26830/11]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): The Deputy will be aware 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 now advised all mainstream schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school.
The NCSE has recently published statistical information in relation to the allocation of Special Needs Assistant posts and resource teaching hours to Primary Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website at www.ncse.ie. The school referred to by the Deputy has an allocation of 7 SNA posts and 49.5 Resource Teaching Hours.
It is considered that, with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources, 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 clarify that the recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.
The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department’s policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism. It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.
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