By the end of the current school year, there will be 14,100 special needs assistants (SNAs) in Irish schools, reflecting a rising child population and the growing participation of children with special needs.
According to Clare Fine Gael Deputy Joe Carey, there has been a 28% increase in SNAs over the past five years in Clare schools.
Since 2013, the number of SNA appointments in the county has increased from 237 to 304. For Deputy Carey, this as a very welcome trend that is benefitting those school children who need extra support.
“The current allocation of SNAs here in Clare means every local child who needs an SNA has one. This makes a world of difference to these children and their families in our community,” said Deputy Carey.
According to Deputy Carey, the Government will invest almost €1.8 billion this year in special education, that’s almost 20% of the overall education budget.
Deputy Carey said, “During the worst years of the recession, when public spending was cut across the board, we not only protected supports for children with special educational needs but grew them.”
“This was not only good news for children requiring support – it also created jobs for local people who have now become an integral and valued part of our school communities.”
In addition to SNAs, over the past two years, the number of resource teachers increased by 1,600 while the number of special classes rose by 277 over the same period.
Today, there are 1,300 special classes in schools across the country, 130 are ASD early intervention classes, 822 primary special classes and 348 are post-primary special classes.
Effectively, since 2011 there has been a doubling of the number of students in special classes from 3,286 to 6,392.
Commenting on this Deputy Carey emphasised, “This reflects the priority which Fine Gael has put on creating a brighter future for children with special educational needs and helping them to achieve their full potential.”