Welcome clarity for schools on SNA allocations

The INTO has been advised that the introduction of the new Frontloaded Allocation Model for Special Needs Assistants for pupils in mainstream classes is to be deferred for a further year to the beginning of the 2022/23 school year.

The Department of Education has stated that it was not possible to deliver the necessary training and information workshops to support the roll out of the new allocation model which had been planned for earlier this year.

The training and workshops are designed to help school leaders and teachers in their in-school planning for the new model and their engagement with parents. These sessions will now be rescheduled to take place during the 2021/22 school year. Further information will be issued by the NCSE in due course.

The INTO will continue to engage with the department to ensure that the 990 additional special needs assistants announced in Budget 2021 will be allocated to schools within the earliest possible timeframe.

The following SNA allocation arrangements will apply for the 2021/22 school year

In order to minimise disruption for schools in the current circumstances, and to provide for continuity of allocations, the following are the arrangements for the allocation of special needs assistants for mainstream classes for the 2021/22 school year:

  • Existing mainstream class SNA allocations in schools on 30 April 2021 will be maintained and will automatically roll over into the 2021/22 school year.
  • No school will therefore receive an allocation less than that which they had on 30 April 2021.
  • SNAs currently in mainstream settings can continue in post for the next school year in the normal way.
  • Priority consideration will now be given by the NCSE to applications for increased support for the 2021/22 school year. In particular, applications from schools with no SNAs and developing schools will be prioritised and determinations made before 30 June. Other applications will be processed in order of date received.
  • 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.
  • The NCSE will publish allocations on its website www.ncse.ie by the end of May 2021.
  • SNA allocations for special classes and special schools are not affected by this arrangement and will be published by the NCSE, along with special classes and special school teaching allocations, on www.ncse.ie by end of May 2021.
  • A circular will issue to all schools shortly.

Resumption and expansion of the School Inclusion Model

The Department of Education has also notified the INTO that the School Inclusion Model (SIM) will resume in 75 schools from September 2021 and will also be expanded in two more Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) areas.

The School Inclusion Model provides tailored in-school therapeutic supports, such as speech and language and occupational therapy, with the aim of achieving better educational outcomes for children. Key elements of the SIM are frontloading of SNAs in mainstream classes, increased training and professional development, and increased support from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).

A pilot of the new model got underway in 75 schools in the HSE CHO 7 area during the 2019/20 school year but was significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 school closures both in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Progress has been made on aspects of the model but much remains to be done in terms of in-school implementation and evaluation.

Budget 2021 provided funding for the expansion of SIM to two new CHO areas from September 2021.

Planning is now underway for the resumption of the SIM in CHO 7 area from next September and to plan for the phased implementation in two other CHO areas, which will include consultation.