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Education | Provisions for special needs teaching requirements

To ask the Minister for Education the extent to which all schools throughout the country continue to make provision for special needs teaching requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education is a priority for this Government.  

This year, my Department will spend in excess of €2 Billion, or over 25% of the Department’s budget on providing a wide range of schemes and supports for children with special educational needs.

The number of teaching posts to support special educational needs across our education system continues to increase and is now at unprecedented levels.

Budget 2022 provided an additional 620 new Special Education teacher (SET) posts for allocation to primary and post primary schools in 2022/23. This will bring the total number of SETs in the system to 14,385. Provision for 14,385 SET’s as at 31st December 2022 will represent an increase of 48% since 2011 at which time 9,740 were provided.

The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.

The Special Education Teacher (SET) Allocation model was introduced in 2017 to allocate the total number of available SET posts on the basis of the educational profile of each school and replaced the previous diagnosis led approach for the allocation of additional teaching time to students with special educational needs and is a more transparent and equitable way of allocating teaching resources to schools.

The model is designed so that each school profiles is updated on a regular basis and the most recent update to school profiles took place earlier this year to take account of the latest available data including enrolments and to provide schools with their SET allocation for the 2022/23 school year.

The re-profiling of the model takes place to ensure the SET hours are distributed in a fair and equitable way which aligns the available resources to the areas of greatest need in our mainstream schools as identified by the SET allocation model.

Budget 2022 provided an additional 620 SET posts bringing the total number of SET posts for distribution across primary and post primary schools to 14,385 for 2022/23. The 620 posts were allocated as follows:

a.  120 of the posts are being set aside to cater for exceptional reviews to be carried out by the NCSE over the year. A review will be carried out where a school demonstrates a significant change in their education profile which requires additional SET support.

b.  100 SET posts are being utilised to address the unique needs of a small number of new and developing schools. These are schools which are developing rapidly and have enrolled a significant numbers of students with complex needs recently. In the absence of a full redistribution of all losses and gains under the allocation model which would address their situation, a special allocation of posts is required to address their particular circumstances. These posts are being distributed in accordance with the model.

c.  The balance of 400 SET posts are being distributed across schools on the basis of the level of need identified under the SET model.

On completion of the re-profiling exercise a total of 14,265 SET posts were allocated based on the special education needs identified within the model and the remaining 120 posts will be assigned throughout the 2022/23 school year under the NCSE exceptional review process to schools where an exceptional or unexpected change in its education profile occurs and to support growing and developing schools.

The allocation of SET resources to all schools is available on the NCSE website at the following link and SET Hours and SNA Allocations – National Council for Special Education (

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