Down Syndrome Ireland was represented at the recent consultation on a proposed new model of SNA allocation, along with representatives of other non -government organisations, the Department of Education & Skills, the NCSE and NEPS.
At the outset, it is important to note that the proposed new model of allocation will only apply in mainstream schools. The allocation of SNA supports in special schools and in special classes/units will remain unchanged. Another important consideration is that the role and function of SNAs in mainstream schools will not change. There are approximately 17,000 SNAs employed in all schools, both mainstream and primary with approximately 10,000 of those employed in mainstream schools.
The new model will work on a system of ‘frontloading’ SNA support in mainstream schools. Allocation of SNA support will be at the discretion of the school and a diagnosis will not be required for this purpose. If a diagnosis is available, it will be used to inform decision making by the school. Parental input and knowledge will also be considered invaluable in assisting schools to make decisions for individual children. Within the proposed new model, the school will have autonomy in reviewing the child’s needs on an ongoing basis and adjust the level of support accordingly. The allocation of SNA support to schools will be based on the school profile which comprises a number of factors:
- Size of school
- Number of pupils with complex needs
- Number of pupils with needs based on standardized testing results
- Social context of the school
- Gender of pupils
Under the proposed new model, no school will lose their current SNA allocation, with in excess of 500 schools set to have an increase on their current SNA allocation. Allowances will also be made for any school should pupil needs change or if a new pupil is enrolled in the school. There will be an appeals process within the new model if schools feel that they will have insufficient SNA support. Similarly, parents will have a formal appeal process if their child is not granted access to SNA support. Guidelines will be issued to schools and a comprehensive training programme for SNAs and schools will be initiated over the next few years. Inspectors will monitor all schools to ensure that schools utilize their allocation correctly.
DSI will be making a submission on the proposed new model and we welcome feedback from our members to inform this – Please take a few moments to complete our survey (by Friday, February 28th)
For additional information, please refer to the Department of Education & Skills website.