Note from Department of Education and Skills 20th January 2020
On 17 December last, the Government decided to introduce a new model for allocating Special Needs Assistants to primary and post-primary schools for students in mainstream classes only with effect from the commencement of the 2020/21 school year as part of the phased roll-out of the School Inclusion Model (SIM).
A pilot of the new system is currently underway.
Change to a new allocation model for SNAs
The recent Government Decision means that the allocation of SNAs for mainstream classes to primary and post-primary schools from 2020/21 onwards will be based on the school profile used for the allocation of Special Education Teachers. The additional 1,064 SNA posts provided in Budget 2020 will facilitate the transition to the new allocation model as well as meeting other priorities.
Under the new allocation model:
- No schools will receive an allocation of SNA support for mainstream classes which is less than their existing 2019/20 mainstream SNA allocation on the introduction of the frontloaded model and some schools gain.
- Parents will not be required to secure a diagnosis of disability in order to access SNA support – the link between diagnosis and resources will be broken.
- Where schools have an SNA, SNA support will be available immediately to students in mainstream classes upon their arrival in school thereby reducing delays in accessing support.
- Schools will have a greater autonomy and flexibility in how their SNA allocation is deployed to meeting the needs of the students in their schools.
- Frontloading will reduce the administrative burden on schools who have to follow up on assessments under the current application – based process.
- SNAs will have more certainty around their tenure of employment and the new model does not change their roles and functions.
- Frontloading will free up valuable resources in the system which are currently involved in carrying out assessments (HSE and NEPS) and administering an assessment based allocation system so children can access SNA support. These valuable resources can now be redirected to meeting other priority needs and to providing increased supports for families and schools.
These new arrangements will not impact on the way SNAs are currently allocated to special classes and special schools. Professional assessments will continue to be required in these cases and the normal application process will continue.
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