8th December 2022
The Minister for Education Norma Foley and the Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan today announced that an agreement has been reached between the Department of Education and University College Dublin (UCD) to proceed with the accreditation of a pilot online training programme for special needs assistants (SNAs).
This pilot training programme, which was commissioned for a four-year period, is providing valuable information to the Department of Education and will inform ongoing policy considerations relating to future training options for SNAs. It is intended to accredit the programme as a Level 6 Special Purpose Award on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). UCD has advised the department that work has commenced to accredit the programme under UCD’s standard programme approval procedures and to consider how previous graduates from the programme might have their award accredited retrospectively.
Minister Foley said:
“I am pleased that we have secured additional funding in the recent Budget to increase the number of SNAs working in schools to over 20,000 by the end of 2023. I place huge importance on the role played by SNAs in our schools and I know how much this work is greatly valued by parents, students and schools. This accreditation is a very positive step.”
Minister Madigan said:
“Following the commitment I made at a recent graduation ceremony, I am delighted to say that following engagement over recent weeks between the department and UCD, the national online training programme for SNAs can now be accredited.
“I would like to thank everyone from UCD involved in the design and delivery of this innovative programme, led by Associate Professor William Kinsella, Head of UCD School of Education. The feedback from SNAs who have completed the course is extremely positive and this reflects the enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment of everyone involved in the delivery of the programme.”
Professor Colin Scott, Principal of UCD College of Social Sciences and Law said:
“I am delighted that UCD School of Education is contributing in such a significant way to the development opportunities of special needs assistants in Ireland, enhancing inclusion in education with significant impact for both the SNAs and those they support in schools.”
The SNA programme was procured by the department for the four-year period and was designed by UCD and the National Council for Special Education. Two cohorts of SNAs have already graduated from the programme and it is intended that up to 3,500 SNAs will access the programme in total during the four year funding scheme that has been provided by the Department of Education.
The department is committed to reviewing this programme after the four-year period has concluded. The department is very aware of the continuing need to provide appropriate training and professional development pathways to SNAs.