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Special Needs Assistants

National Training Programme for Special Needs Assistants

Level 6 Diploma in Inclusive School Support  

The programme is fully funded by the Department of Education for any SNAs currently working within the Irish education system. SNAs do not have to be in a permanent role within their school but need to be employed by the Department of Education on a full-time or part-time basis to be eligible to apply. SNAs who are currently subbing in a school are welcome to apply for this programme. 

The National Training Programme for SNAs consists of 5 modules: 

Module 1 - Inclusive Education of Students with Additional Educational Needs 

This module sets the foundation for the course by enabling knowledge of the history and structure of the Special Needs Assistant scheme, as described in the relevant Department of Education Circular 0030/2014. 

In addition, the foundational philosophy of the SNA Scheme is firmly grounded in Inclusive Education through interrogation of inclusive education philosophy and practice as it applies to Irish and international educational systems.

The role of the Special Needs Assistant, as part of an overall support system within inclusive classroom environments, will be fully explored within this module. In addition, a basic knowledge of key conditions, within additional needs, will be presented, while highlighting the key skills and competencies needed by SNAs in order to successfully support care needs within these conditions.

Module 2 - Communication & Language 

This module focuses on all aspects of Communication from an understanding of basic language development to augmentative and assistive technology to support communication for students with sensory deficits such as hearing and sight impairment.

The importance of communication as a foundational skill for supporting vulnerable students is highlighted along with an understanding of how students communicate through certain behaviours. Conditions which are commonly associated with behaviours of concern, such as ADD/ADHD will be highlighted here.

Module 3 - Primary & Complex Care Needs 

This module will be delivered by the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems in UCD. 

It is dedicated to the area of primary and complex care needs associated with certain medical and neurological conditions. While nursing needs may be referred to, it will become clear to Special Needs Assistants what tasks and skills are included within their daily support activities.

Module 4 - Supporting Students with Autism 

This module is dedicated to all aspects of Autism as they apply to the role of the Special Needs Assistant. A general overview of the condition along with the associated primary and complex care needs will be presented here. 

Students will become familiar with the recommended support strategies for students with autism within a variety of settings and based on a wide range of severity of symptoms. 
Communication pertinent to working with students with autism along with support for sensory-based needs and behaviours of concern associated with autism will be fully explored.

Module 5 - Prof Development of SNAs

The final module in this course is dedicated to the development of core skills which are necessary in order to become a successful and fulfilled Special Needs Assistant. Many of the sessions here focus on developing areas which will ultimately enhance the overall work experience for SNAs within the supportive school setting while providing a firm foundation for optimum job satisfaction and enabling insight into the skills necessary to address a range of personal challenges within the role.

The programme will run from September until June with breaks throughout the year during the usual school holidays. 

This is a fully online programme with one live webinar a week which is also recorded if you cannot make this day and weekly online course content that students can access in their own time. 

We are opening the applications for the Sept 23 intake for the SNA programme on Monday 13th March.

Please contact Maebh Comyn at sna@ucd.ie

School of Education

University College Dublin Belfield Dublin 4 Ireland
T: +353 1 716 7777