UCD delivers Ireland's first dedicated national training programme for Special Needs Assistants

Posted 28 September, 2020

Ireland's first ever dedicated national training programme for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) is to be delivered by University College Dublin.

Over 3,500 places will be made available over the next four years as part of a new free online programme for SNAs beginning in January 2021.

This programme, which will enrol 500 SNAs in its first year, will consist of five modules over ten months covering inclusion, communications and language, a range of special needs and information on caring for students with additional care needs.

“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,” said Minister for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD.

“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.

“As it is an online programme, it can be accessed by SNAs at a time that suits them... [and] is open to all SNAs working in primary, post-primary and special schools at no cost to the SNA.”

The need for SNA training was identified by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in its recent review of the SNA scheme.

Following a public procurement process, UCD School of Education in conjunction with UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems was selected to develop and deliver this training.

Associate Professor William Kinsella, Head of UCD School of Education said the new programme “will enhance the skills of SNAs in supporting the most vulnerable students within the education system, thus enhancing the inclusiveness of our schools.”

“We, at UCD School of Education, are very pleased to be involved in this initiative with the Department of Education and Skills and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in delivering what we consider to be a very important programme, namely a national training programme for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in Irish schools. This has been an identified need within the Education system over many years,” he added.

The new SNA training programme will be open for applications from early October, with a closing date of November 16th. Application forms and information material will be available on the UCD website. For more information, contact the School of Education at sna@ucd.ie - the official email for the programme.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations