Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD has welcomed the publication by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) of the list of special classes for the coming school year (2021/22). The list shows that 2,118 special classes will be established in mainstream primary and post-primary schools across the country from September, providing places for approximately 12,700 students with additional needs. Minister Madigan also welcomed the establishment of 269 new special classes for the coming school year which will see an additional 1,600 special class places available across the country. Since 2011, the number of special classes has increased by 386%. Minister Josepha Madigan said: “The publication of the list of special classes for this September will be a great support to parents and families of young people with special educational needs, and confirms the commitment to ensure that young people have appropriate school places suitable to their needs. I am particularly pleased to see continued growth in the number of special classes across the country, with 269 new special classes being established this year to provide an additional 1,600 places across the country. I want to pay tribute to all our schools, particularly the schools who are establishing special classes for the first time. “We are also adding an additional 990 SNAs to support the increase in special classes. All of this is backed by funding of €2 billion which was secured for the special education budget this year. Since 2011, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased by almost 386% from 548 to 2,118 for the 2021/2022 school year. “I want to thank everyone in the National Council for Special Education and Special Educational Needs Organisers around the country for their work in supporting special education and the establishment of special classes. Throughout Ireland, the number of special classes continues to grow year-on-year. Today’s announcement is another step on the road to strengthening support and inclusion in our education system for the benefit of all students, and will ensure that students have the supports needed to reach their full potential.” The list of special classes can be found here Ends Notes for Editors Students with special educational needs should, where possible, be educated in mainstream classes along with their peers, with additional supports provided as necessary. Special classes are part of a continuum of educational provision that enables students with more complex special educational needs to be educated, in smaller class groups, within their local mainstream schools. They offer a supportive learning environment to students who are unable to access the curriculum in a mainstream class, even with support, for most or all of their school day. Students enrolled in special classes should be included in mainstream classes to the greatest extent possible, in line with their abilities. Guidelines on opening special classes can be accessed here . These guidelines give information and guidance to schools on the setting up and organisation of NCSE-sanctioned special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools. They are based on principles of good practice and Boards of Management are requested to take due cognisance of them when setting up, staffing and organising special classes in their schools.