Friday 21 July 2017

975 extra SNAS to be allocated for schools this September, as Minister vows to fast-track allocation system

Richard Bruton announced the plans to recruit special needs assistants
Richard Bruton announced the plans to recruit special needs assistants
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The annual process of allocating special needs assistants (SNAs) to schools will be fast-tracked next year, Education Minister Richard Bruton has promised.

The minister announced that a further 975 SNAs will be working in schools from September, bringing the total number to 13,990, up 7.5pc on last year.

But, Mr Bruton and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar faced severe criticism over the timing of the announcement, which had left parents in the dark over whether their child will have necessary assistance in September.

The union Impact, which represents SNAs, has warned that it will ballot for industrial action at the start the new school year because of the Government’s failure to announce SNA allocations before the end of the summer term.

Fianna Fail's education spokesperson, Thomas Byrne, said the delay made it difficult for management at schools to adequately plan for the year ahead while SNAs remain unsure whether they have a job to which to return.

The announcement is never made before June, but this year,  and in 2015, it ran into July, after all schools had closed. 

Read More: School support staff balloted for industrial action as hiring plans announced

Mr Bruton said that it was “very difficult” for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to predict need and it was only when they got a handle on enrolments for the year ahead that they could firm up  on the allocations..

But he said the NCSE was working on a new model of identifying and  predicting need, which, he hoped, would allow for the allocations to be included in the Budget,  from this year.

SNAs support students who have significant care needs, arising from a disability or medical condition, and may assist with issues such as feeding, toileting, medication and mobility. 

One SNA usually works with several students.

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