Schools to get 600 more special needs assistants
Soaring demand for special needs assistants (SNAs) in schools has triggered a review of the scheme.
The rise in the number of SNA posts being allocated in September is running at about four times the increase in pupil enrolments.
At least 666 additional SNAs will be employed for 2015/16, bringing the total to 11,820. That is up from 11,154 at the end of June, and from 10,895 in September 2014.
It represents an increase of 7.6pc since the end of the 2014/15 school year, compared with annual growth in pupil numbers of the order of less than 2pc. There is also provision for the allocation of a further 120 SNAs in response to new demand during the course of the year, following a Cabinet decision yesterday to allow for a maximum 11,940 in 2015/16.
SNAs are recruited to 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.
The allocation for 2015/16 is much higher than was anticipated in the Budget last October and Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan said it followed a significant increase in assessed need.