Deputy Jackie Cahill
Special needs assistants are a crucial and core element of the Irish education system, and without them, thousands of children would have lost out of a quality education, according to Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill
Deputy Cahill was commenting during a special Dáil debate on the role of SNAs in Irish schools and the need to appropriately fund them and their work.
He said that 20 years ago, former Education Minister, Micheál Martin introduced a system of SNAs for primary and secondary schools.
“To say that they have had a transformative impact would not do SNAs justice. They are in many cases the difference between a child with special learning needs or a disability struggling in school or excelling,” he said.
Deputy Cahill said that there had been problems in the system with regard to the allocation of SNAs to pupils. For too long, it was done in a chaotic and last minute manner.
Fianna Fáil secured changed to this last year, he said.
“Not only was this very worrying for the children and their parents, it also caused great anxiety for SNAs. They didn’t know from one school year to the next if they had a job,” said Deputy Cahill.
Fianna Fáil had also secured Government support to ensure that schools cannot refuse to establish special classes. This will, he believed, provide more supports for children with special needs, said the Tipperary TD.