herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Fury over Special needs cuts

Angry parents and teachers have attacked plans to cut numbers of special needs assistants (SNAs).

They say the move means children with behavioural problems will be left without support from September.

A cap of 10,575 is being put on the number of SNAs in schools, which means 227 of the 10,802 existing posts will disappear this year, while 475 will be held in reserve and allocated as needs arise.

The decision is being taken after a review of the service which found an over-allocation of assistants of 27pc in mainstream schools and 10pc in special schools.

Teachers have warned that this will lead to disruption for other children if those with behavioural problems are not supported from the time they start school.

"Schools should not have to wait until the education of all children is affected before the Department of Education is willing to act" said an Irish National Teachers' Organisation spokesperson.

"When a child with special needs does not have those needs met in junior infants, every child starting school is affected."

The Department of Education has announced new criteria for the allocation of an SNA, whose role is to help children with care needs.

The department has defended the changes and said it was working with the school psychologists' service, NEPS, to develop guidelines.

hnews@herald.ie

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