The recruitment of almost 1,000 special needs assistants and other supports in Budget 2021 will ensure children and young people receive dedicated support, Clare TD Joe Carey has said.

Welcoming the teaching supports, Deputy Carey said: “Covid-19 has presented challenges for our education sector and our teachers, SNAs and many more across the sector have gone to extraordinary efforts in ensuring that our children could return to school this Autumn.

“Budget 2021 will allow Government to invest a record allocation of €2 billion in funding to support children and young people with special education needs.

“This will provide for the recruitment of 990 additional SNAs provided dedicated support to students with additional needs. Over 400 additional teachers in the area of special educational needs will also be recruited.

“This allocation brings the total number of SNAs in schools to 18,000. The measures will support additional special classes and the further rollout of the School Inclusion Model.

“The overall budget for education this year has increased by €400 million to €8.8 billion, with DEIS schools and primary and post-primary schools in Clare benefitting from new investment.

“This increase is in addition to the significant financial supports already being provided to support schools to remain open during the Covid-19 crisis.

“There is also a further reduction in the staffing schedule at primary level by 1 point to 25:1 through the provision of over 300 mainstream teaching posts.

“I am pleased that my colleagues in Government are also committed to continued capital investment to build new schools and special class units to meet growing demand and to improve existing schools.”

Deputy Carey added: “Budget 2021 also provides targeted supports for our young adults with a suite of measures for Higher & Further Education.

“A €50 million fund will provide financial assistance to full time third level students in recognition of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this group.

“There will also be significant changes to supports for post-graduate students, making it easier for them to access Susi grants and increasing the size of the payment.

“Budget 2021 also contains €120 million for Skills including extending the apprentice scheme and giving cash payments to businesses, 50,000 further education and training places and the extension of the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme.

“There is a €30 million investment in research to build capacity, support Covid research and strengthen North-South research links. Funding is also provided to sustain additional places in Higher Education and provide 1,500 additional Springboard places,” Deputy Carey concluded.