Dillon welcomes launch of new National Training Programme for Special Needs Assistants

Mayo Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon today welcomed news from Minister for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD the launch of a new National Training Programme for Special Needs Assistants. This is the first dedicated national training programme for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). It will be delivered by UCD and funded by the Department of Education at no cost to the SNA.

The new online programme for SNAs will begin in January 2021 and will consist of five modules delivered over a ten-month period covering inclusion, communications and language, a range of special needs and information on caring for students with additional care needs. In total, there are 3,500 places available on the programme over the next four years.

Deputy Dillon said “Nearly 17,000 SNAs work in our schools dealing with the care needs of the most vulnerable students so they can participate in school life as much as possible and achieve the best possible education outcomes. This programme will help refresh and update their knowledge and skills and provide an opportunity for them to interact with educators and colleagues in a learning and supported professional environment.

“Providing support and training for SNAs is an important part of Action Priorities for Special Education and I encourage all SNAs to enroll in this  national training programme. The programme is high-quality and was developed by University College Dublin (UCD) in conjunction with the Department and the NCSE. As it is an online programme, it can be accessed by SNAs at a time that suits them, Said Deputy Dillon.

 “The programme is open to all SNAs working in primary, post-primary and special schools at no cost to the SNA. I hope that Mayo schools will encourage their SNAs to enroll. It is open to schools to use some of the current training time allocation to facilitate participation in the programme.”

  “In some cases, this may be the first opportunity many SNAs have had to engage in formal learning in relation to their work in schools. On successful completion of the programme, participants will receive a certificate from UCD which may serve as a stepping-stone to further education and qualification. Ongoing training and professional development for SNAs will continue to be a key objective.” Concluded Deputy Dillon.

 The programme will be open for applications from October 1st, with a closing date of November 16th, with the first cohort of students due to begin on January 18th 2021. Application forms and information material is available on the UCD website.

Notification of this programme will issue directly to every school in the country over the coming days informing them of this important initiative. Further information will be published on the Department’s website and via social media. UCD will be holding webinars where potential applicants will be invited to attend to meet the team and ask questions.