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Government approves appointment of 390 new posts for special needs assistants

The decision has been welcomed by the trade union representing the majority of SNAs.

Image: School kid via Shutterstock

EDUCATION MINISTER RUAIRÍ Quinn has confirmed that 170 new special needs assistants (SNAs) will be appointed immediately with further 220 to be employed next year.

It follows Cabinet approval of a proposal by Quinn to increase the cap on the number of SNAs working in the State. Approval today means that the total number of SNAs in the country will be 10,965 when the recruitment process concludes.

The Department of Education said these extra posts will ensure that government policy of ensuring that every child who is assessed as needing SNA support will receive such support.

The previous government imposed a cap on the number of SNAs at 10,575 in 2010, however the number of pupils in need of SNA has increased since them.

“Despite our economic difficulties, we need to support our children with special needs to achieve their full potential in school,” Ruairí Quinn said today.

The decision today was welcomed by the trade union IMPACT, which represents the majority of SNAs, whose official Dessie Robinson said: “The recent practice of allocating portions of SNA posts to schools, rather than full-time SNAs, has placed further financial and organisational pressure on schools working to educate children with special needs.

“These full-time posts are very welcome and will go some way to meeting the increased demand in our schools. We hope it is also a sign that the casualisation of the SNA role is being addressed.”

The National Council for Special Education will allocate the new SNA posts on the basis of need following assessment, the Department of Education said.

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Hugh O'Connell

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