Schools get 1,000 extra special needs assistants
Nearly 1,000 new special needs assistants (SNAs) will be appointed this year.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said that 800 additional special needs assistants will be allocated for the beginning of the next school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated between September and December.
The figures represent an increase of just over 7pc on last year to meet the level of assessed demand.
It will bring to 15,000 the number of special needs assistants working in schools nationwide.
A total of €524m is being invested in SNAs annually. When the new posts are introduced, some 36,000 pupils will be able to avail of the support.
Mr Bruton said: "The aim of the Government is to ensure that children with special educational needs can be supported to fully participate in schools and fulfil their potential."
He said that by dealing with funding for SNA posts as part of the normal annual Estimates process, he was able to announce the allocations at a time when they can give certainty to the school communities at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Bruton said the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will now proceed to notify schools of their SNA allocations for the coming 2018-2019 school year, and it will publish details of these allocations on its website.
"SNAs have continued to play a key role in helping children with special educational needs who have additional care needs to attend schools and participate in education," he said.
In July last year, Mr Bruton had given a commitment that funding for SNA posts would be dealt with as part of the normal Estimates process, so that schools would be informed of their allocation for the beginning of the new school year before the end of May 2018. The move is to facilitate schools being able to plan for the year ahead.
The NCSE was asked in September 2016 to lead a review of the SNA scheme, and its report was submitted to the Department of Education. Its contents are "under consideration".