261 SNA’s in Clare Schools - how many positions are going to made redundant - BREEN

January 29th, 2010 - Pat Breen

As the deadline for the withdrawn of SNA posts from Schools approaches, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen T.D. has demanded that the Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe clarify whether any of the 261 Special Needs Assistants who are employed in Clare Schools will be withdrawn by the end of the month and Deputy Breen also wants the Minister to outline how pupils who are in need of special needs will be integrated into main stream classrooms if these SNA’s are made redundant.

The National Council for Special Education (NSCE) has been requested by the Department of Education and Science to carry out a review of its allocation of Special Needs Assistants in all Schools. The review is well underway and the fear is that a number of these SNA’s are going to be made redundant by the end of January, with the entire review due to the completed by the end of March.

“The whole idea behind the SNA was to put the special needs child on a “level playing field”. The SNA’s have received special training and they have built up a strong relationship with the child with whom they work with. I have witnessed for myself the distress and upset which is caused to special needs children and their families when for one reason or another a SNA who has been working with that child for a number of years is made redundant or leaves the position. It causes huge upset. Then to suggest that teachers can teach an entire class and also meet the needs of a special needs child is unrealistic and unworkable and every child’s education will suffer.”

“The review which is being carried out by the National Council for Special Education is across all schools where SNA’s work, nationally there are 10,000 SNA’s in our Education System. Here in County Clare there are 261 Special Needs Assistants employed, two hundred and twenty of which are in our Primary Schools with forty alone serving in our Post Primary Schools. Minister O’Keeffe claims that this review is being carried out to identify surplus posts which are in the system. I cannot understand this as the education cutbacks made by this Government have already impacted on Special Needs Children and their families. In recent times, I have been inundated with complaints from parents of special needs children who have been affected by cutbacks where the hours that SNA’s work in Schools has been reduced.”

“Minister O’Keeffe must clarify the situation. How will this affect the 261 SNA’s employed in Clare Schools; will any of these positions cease work in Clare Classrooms by this Friday and if SNA posts are to be made redundant in our Schools, how is Minister O’Keeffe going to make sure that special needs children will continue to receive education on a ”level playing pitch”.

“Sadly, once again it is the most vulnerable children in our country who are being targeted for savage cuts and who will be asked to pay the price for the mismanagement of our Economy by this Government over the past ten years.”

See Parliamentary Questions underneath for your information.

Uimhir:613

Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the number
of special needs assistants employed in schools in County Clare as of 31
December 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pat Breen.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 26th January, 2010.
Reference Number: 3497/10

Freagra

Minister Batt O’Keeffe

There were 261 Special Needs Assistants (whole time equivalents) employed in
County Clare on 31 December 2009 and paid on payrolls operated by my
Department. Two hundred and twenty were serving in primary schools and forty
one were serving in secondary and community/comprehensive schools. The Deputy
should contact Co. Clare Vocational Education Committee in relation to the
number of special needs assistants employed by them.

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE)
is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs
Organisers (SENOs), for allocating Special Needs Assistants to primary and post
primary schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE
operates within my Department’s criteria in allocating such support.

Uimhir:614

Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the review
being undertaken in schools regarding the provision of special needs
assistants; the number of assessments; and if he will make a statement on the
matter.
- Pat Breen.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 26th January, 2010.
Reference Number: 3498/10

Freagra

Minister Batt O’Keeffe

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education
(NCSE), through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is
at present carrying out a review of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocations
in all schools with a view to ensuring that the criteria governing the
allocation of such posts, as outlined in my Department’s Circular 07/02, are
properly met. This is an exercise in identifying surplus posts which are in the
system and which do not meet the current criteria – posts that have been
retained when a pupil’s care needs have diminished or where the pupil has left.

SENOs are communicating the outcome of the review directly to schools as the
review progresses. The allocation for any school and any adjustments to that
allocation depends on a number of factors such as the number of pupils with
care/medical needs leaving, the number of new pupils, the changing needs of the
pupils and any surplus identified. It is expected that the NCSE will have
completed the review by the end of March 2010.

I wish to assure the Deputy that the SNA support will continue to be made
available to schools which have enrolled pupils who qualify for such support.