Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 26 September, 2007

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review the criteria for the appointment of special needs assistants in primary schools; if she will extend the criteria to include the education needs of children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20894/07]

  Deputy Mary Hanafin:I wish to advise the Deputy that special needs assistants (SNAs) and teachers have separate yet complementary roles. SNAs provide care support to pupils with special educational needs who have been assessed as having such needs while teachers deliver education to the pupils.

The Deputy will be aware of the my Department’s unprecedented investment in recent years in providing additional teachers in primary schools to ensure that children with special educational needs have access to appropriate education. There are now almost 6,000 whole time equivalent teachers supporting the education of children with special educational needs in primary schools.

I have no plans, at present, to formally extend the SNA role to be that of a para-educator.