1. Allocation of Teaching Resources
Information on the allocation of teaching resources for pupils who need additional support in mainstream primary schools is contained in the Department of Education and Science Special Education Circular SP ED 02/05.
General Allocation Model
The general allocation scheme is designed to ensure that all schools have enough teaching hours to meet the immediate needs of pupils with high incidence special educational needs and those who require learning support. It reflects the fact that most schools would have children with these needs. As pupils with low incidence special educational needs are not found in every school, individual resource applications for these pupils will continue to be made.
High Incidence Special Educational Needs
- pupils who are eligible for learning-support teaching (those whose score below the 10th percentile on standardised reading or mathematics tests)
- pupils with learning difficulties, including pupils with mild speech and language difficulties, pupils with mild social or emotional difficulties and pupils with mild co-ordination or attention control difficulties associated with identified conditions such as dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD;
- pupils who have special educational needs arising from high incidence disabilities (borderline mild general learning disability, mild general learning disability and specific learning disability).
Children in any of these three categories of learning difficulty will have their needs addressed at the discretion of the school and will have no additional teaching hours allocated by the Department of Education & Science The main form of support provided for this group of children is additional teaching support in the classroom, or withdrawal learning support in a small group or one-to-one setting.
Low Incidence Special Educational Needs
- Pupils with special educational needs arising from a low-incidence disability are considered to have learning needs that require, where appropriate, an assessment of need from a specialist outside the school. Such specialist advice may be sought from psychologists, speech and language therapists etc.
Categories of low incidence disabilities and the number of resource teaching hours per week available to schools in respect of each category
- Physical Disability = 3
- Hearing Impairment = 4
- Visual Impairment = 3.5
- Emotional Disturbance = 3.5
- Severe Emotional Disturbance = 5
- Moderate General Learning Disability = 3.5
- Severe / Profound General Learning Disability = 5
- Autism / Autistic Spectrum Disorders = 5
- Specific Speech and Language Disorder 4
- Multiple Disabilities 5
- Assessed syndrome in conjunction with one of the above low incidence disabilities 3 to 5, taking into account the pupil’s special educational needs including level of general learning disability
Pupils with Special Educational Needs arising from an Assessed Syndrome (such as Down syndrome):
Where a child with an assessed syndrome has a general learning disability, resource teaching will be allocated to schools in line with hours allocated to pupils assessed as being within the same band, i.e.:
- Assessed syndrome + moderate general learning disability = 3.5 hours
- Assessed syndrome + severe /profound general learning disability = 5 hours
But – remember! Mild general learning disability is currently considered a high incidence special need, therefore:
- Assessed syndrome + mild general learning disability = no resource hours → support is given in the form of learning support, under General Allocation Model.
Where a child with an assessed syndrome has any of the other low-incidence disabilities listed above, resource teaching support will be allocated on that basis, e.g.:
- Assessed syndrome + visual impairment = 3.5 hours
- Assessed syndrome + specific speech & language disorder = 4 hours
- Assessed syndrome + autism spectrum disorder = 5 hours
A maximum allocation of 5 hours teaching support per week from a resource teacher may be made in respect of each pupil assessed as having multiple disabilities
Special Education Circular SP ED 02/05 can be accessed on
2. Allocation of Special Needs Assistants
Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are recruited to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. They can be appointed to a special or mainstream school to assist that school in making suitable provision for a pupil with special care needs arising from a disability. SNAs may be allocated on a full or part time basis, and may be shared between named pupils for whom such support has been allocated (Department of Education Circular SP.ED 07/02).
Appendix 1 of Circular SP.ED 07/02 lists the duties of SNAs. These duties are of a non-teaching nature. The circular also states that pupils with a general learning disability “would not typically require the services of a Special Needs Assistant”. In the case of students with special educational needs who require additional academic support or input, Schools are advised to apply instead for resource teaching provisions.
The criteria for allocation of an SNA include
- significant medical needs for assistance
- significant impairment of a physical or sensory function
- behaviour which means the child is a danger to themselves or others
When applying for a Special Needs Assistant for a pupil, professional assessment and diagnosis of the child’s care needs is required, outlined in a report which describes the child’s special care need and gives a signed recommendation from the professional that the support of a SNA is necessary, and to what extent (full time, part time, mornings only, etc.). The decision made by the SENO regarding SNA support for a child can be appealed to the NCSE by the school and parents, provided new relevant information is provided that was not included with the original application.
Circular SP ED 07/02 gives information on the Role and Duties of a Special Needs Assistant. It can be accessed on http://www.sess.ie/documents-and-publications/circulars