SNA Allocation Delay not OK

 

In the last school year, there were 3,421 Special Educational Needs pupils in 585 classrooms nationwide, a figure that is projected to increase in the 2015/16 school year. The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme was designed to promote inclusive education. This is achieved by providing schools with additional adult support staff to cater for children with special education and significant care needs with minimum disruption to class or teaching time.

 

It is already July and schools are still awaiting their SNA allocation for the 2015/16 school year from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and principals are becoming incredibly frustrated with the lack of progress on this issue.

Time is running out for schools to implement appropriate recruitment and vetting procedures by the 1st September or to activate redundancies so close to the start of the next school year.  The reality is that there are Special Needs Pupils who are due to start school on the 1st September that may not have supports in place to allow them to do so.

The Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), a professional body for 6,000 primary school leaders, states that it is unacceptable that such a delay prevents principals from appointing desperately needed support staff. This delay and uncertainty is causing immense concern and agitation to entire school communities - principals, staff members and especially the parents of SEN pupils.

Principals submitted their applications to their Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO), as requested, by the deadline date last March. Three and a half months later there is still no schedule of staffing.

Mr Seán Cottrell, CEO of IPPN, said ‘this is an entirely unacceptable situation. School principals and stressed-out parents of children with needs deserve better. We cannot leave schools in the dark in relation to special needs support for the coming school year. This is a situation that must not be repeated in future years.’

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