On July 13th 2011, a public protest took place outside Leinster House, on Kildare Street in Dublin. Public opposition was shown to government proposals to cap the number of special-needs assistants (SNAs) in the education system for the 2011-12 school year, amid moves to reduce the number of SNAs in the education system by 200 overall.
SNAs For Kids With Extra Needs
Some deaf children with extra needs at mainstream schools in Ireland can access SNA support. These SNAs work with the children in English and/or as communication assistants (interpreters), to ‘reinforce’ the teacher’s dialogue and classroom learning with the child.
The IDK team has highlighted this teaching support for deaf children with additional needs (beyond deafness) at mainstream schools who may, or may not use hearing technology.
In cost-terms, a specialist school can have a pupil-teacher ratio (ptr) of 6:1, while in a mainstream school, this ptr can be 30:1. Hiring one SNA for a mainstream school costs far less than hiring five teachers for a specialist school, while allowing (deaf) children to be educated in their home areas and to live with their own families.
Upskilling SNAs As Technology Managers
The Dail vote on SNA numbers was defeated by 103 to 47 votes. On a more positive note, independent TDs called for the SNA service to be redesigned with input from parents, teachers and SNAs. Proposals were made for SNAs to train and qualify as learning support assistants with technological awareness and digital skills, instead of simply being carers.
*Question: Do Deaf Children Really Need A SNA?
* Parents’ pain at special education cuts (Dublin People)