Children with special needs in Donegal will benefit from 44 extra Special Needs Assistants in local schools, a Fine Gael TD and Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh has said today.
The allocation is part of a national provision of 975 additional SNAs which will be available for allocation to schools over the period September to December 2017, a 7.5% increase, in order to meet the level of assessed demand.
Minister McHugh said: “This increase reflects the growing participation of children with special educational needs in our local schools in Donegal and will support their full participation and progression within the educational system.
“I have been in constant communication with my Fine Gael colleague, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, highlighting the need for extra supports for children with special needs here in Donegal.
“The extra posts will ensure that every child that needs access to SNA support in Donegal can receive this support.
“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 fulfill their potential.
“In the worst years of the crash, when the public purse declined massively, investment in special education was not only protected and prioritised, but it was significantly increased.
“The increase in total investment in this area has been more than 30% since 2011. There are now 698 SNA posts in Donegal.
“It is essential that we continue to provide for children with special educational needs in our local schools so they can reach their full potential.
“Fine Gael measures success in this area by looking at the number of children with Special Educational Needs that are fully participating and progressing through the school system.
“More children with SEN are participating than ever before and we are investing more than ever before to support this. In 2017 my Fine Gael colleague, Minister Bruton’s Department will invest €1.68 billion in special education, almost one fifth of the entire education budget.”
There will be 35 extra SNAs in Donegal primary schools, seven in Post-Primary positions and two Special Needs schools sector. It brings to 698 the number of SNAs in Donegal schools.
Minster Bruton said: “I am very pleased that 975 additional Special Needs Assistants will be available to allocate to schools by the end of this year. It brings the total number of SNAs to nearly 14,000 – the highest ever number of SNAs.
“In parallel, the NCSE are conducting comprehensive work to examine whether the current SNA scheme represents the best possible means of supporting the additional needs of children with special needs.
“I look forward to receiving the full reports of this progress when that work is complete. Special needs assistants have continued to play a key role in helping children to participate and progress.”