SCHOOLS will begin availing of extra supports for children with special needs in the coming days, as an extra 455 resource teaching posts have been given the green light.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published details of its latest round of resource teaching allocations for the current school year.
It said that, following Education Minister Ruairi Quinn's announcement on Budget day last week that he was rolling out extra supports for children with special needs, the extra 455 resource teaching posts have now been sanctioned.
While some schools will be able to hire an extra resource teacher, for others it will mean they can increase the number of hours provided by their existing resource teacher.
In the case of primary schools, one resource teacher post is the equivalent of 25 hours of teaching per week, while at second level one post is the equivalent of 22 hours.
The NCSE said that in some cases at primary level, one resource teacher can be supporting special needs students in a number of different schools.
The additional 455 posts will bring the total number of resource teaching posts to over 5,700 and are designed to address the increase in demand for supports for special needs students.
Announcing the creation of the extra posts, Teresa Griffin, chief executive of the NCSE, said: "The NCSE is delighted that additional posts have been made available in the Budget to meet increased demand for support despite the difficult economic times."
The number of special needs assistants and resource teachers has almost doubled over the past decade from 5,367 in 2003 to 10,575 this year.
The role of the resource teacher is to provide additional teaching capacity to mainstream primary and secondary schools that have pupils with special educational needs – whereas special needs assistants provide non-educational care to those pupils who have medical needs or physical or sensory disabilities.