Additional needs provision

Educate Together is proud to have a reputation as an inclusive school network, welcoming and supporting students from a range of backgrounds to reach their full potential, whatever their educational needs.  

Educate Together school communities are at the front line of additional needs provision, and our schools have a higher proportion of specialist classes for Autistic students than other sectors1. Consequently, many Educate Together schools are acutely aware of shortcomings in provision for children and young people with additional needs in our school system. 

Educate Together is working towards an education system in which all children with additional needs have the supports that they need, when they need them.  We use every appropriate opportunity to advocate for:  

  • Improved levels of support for children with additional needs, including therapeutic supports;  
  • Appropriate and safe physical environments for specialist classes in schools;  
  • A fair and transparent policy regarding allocation of staff to support children with additional needs; 
  • Increased staffing for new and developing schools to bring them in line with established schools. 
  • Improved continuing professional development for school staff to ensure everyone has the skills and confidence they need to meet all students’ needs.  

See Educate Together’s submission to the Minister for Special Education from 2020.

Other Educate Together related campaigns: 

There has been increased investment in more teachers and additional educational needs assistants (ANA/SNA) in recent years spread throughout the entire system. Such investment has resulted from advocacy and campaigning by many including, Educate Together-related campaigns, such as Kids Behind the Cuts, a campaign spearheaded by Educate Together schools to raise awareness of the repeated reduction of supports for school children with additional educational needs. 

Despite increased investment in recent years, many schools in Ireland struggle to adequately provide resources for their pupils with additional needs. There continues to be insufficient additional educational needs staff in the system to match the needs in schools, and the appeals ‘Exceptional Review’ process is cumbersome, and time-consuming, rarely resulting in schools getting sufficient additional resources.

Many of our schools report that current staffing needs are under resourced due to the disproportionately negative impact of the introduction of a front-loaded model of allocation for special education teachers (SET). The current iteration of the model does not cater adequately for the rapidly growing numbers in developing schools. Similar plans to introduce a front-loaded Additional Needs Assistants (ANA/SNA) model have been delayed by the Department of Education.  

In addition, for schools that are growing and developing each year, the current policy of allocating resources based on last year’s enrolments, and only partially re-allocating resources every two years, means that those students with the most need in these schools are being disadvantaged further, and prevented from experiencing an education that allows them to reach their full potential.

Educate Together is committed to working closely with the Department of Education and other partners to address the above concerns and to ensure the smooth running of the education system.