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For Oral Answer on : 23/09/2021
Question Number(s): 117 Question Reference(s): 45503/21
Department: Education
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Minister for Education her views on the progress of the recruitment of additional special needs assistants outlined in Budget 2021; the number of special needs assistants currently employed by county; the way this compares with annual figures for the previous ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.


The provision of education for children with special needs is an ongoing priority for Government.  The numbers of special classes, special education teachers and Special Needs Assistants are at unprecedented levels.

The Department will spend approximately €2 Billion, or over 20% of its total educational budget on making additional provision for children with special educational needs in 2021.

This represents an increase of over 50% in total expenditure since 2011, at which point €1.247 Billion per annum was provided.

Budget 2021 provided for an additional 990 additional SNAs for allocation to schools, bringing the total numbers to 18,000 by December 2021.

This allocation of SNAs is to meet the care needs of pupils in 2021 and will enable the establishment of new special classes, creation of new places in special schools, support children in mainstream classes for the 2021/22 school year.

This will represent an increase of increase of 70% in the number of SNAs provided since 2011 at which point 10,575 SNAs were available.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the planning and coordination of education provision for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNA posts.

Where circumstances change during the course of the 2021/22 school year that materially increase the level of care need in a school to the extent that the school can clearly demonstrate that it cannot be met within the existing SNA allocation, the school may apply to the NCSE for a review.  Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website

The NCSE publish statistics on SNA allocations to primary, post primary and special schools in tabular form, by county, for each school year, this information is available on their website,

Special Needs Assistants are employed by schools.  Information on appointments made is not collected from schools.  

The Department does not have a role in making individual school determinations. Accordingly your question has been forwarded to the NCSE for direct reply.