Research at St Angela's focuses on training needs of Special Needs Assistants

Recommendations include the need for a more structured and mandatory SNA training

Research at St Angela's focuses on training needs of Special Needs Assistants

A research report entitled Investigating the Training Needs of Special Needs Assistants in the Border, Midland and Western Region was recently launched by the Centre for SEN, Inclusion and Diversity (CSENID), St Angela’s College, Sligo.

This research project was funded by St Angela’s College and the Ursuline Union inaugural Angela Merici Research Awards.

The launch coincided with CSENID’s annual seminar on Supporting Professional Development in SEN, at St. Angela’s College, Sligo. Attendees at the launch included personnel from Department of Education and Skills, National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Special Education Support Service (SESS), and Directors of Education Centres in the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) region, as well as Principals, Deputy Principals and Co-ordinators of SEN from Primary, Post-Primary and Special Schools.

“Our SNA programmes are the only University-accredited programmes in the country,” explains Ms Ailbhe O’Halloran, Co-ordinator of SNA programmes.

The programme of training aims to meet the training needs of those working as SNA’s and to enable them to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes and understanding of the role of the SNA in order to respond to the special educational needs of students.”

St. Angela’s College was the first national provider of Department of Education and Skills (DES) funded training for SNA’s and, since 2002, has been the only provider of training in the BMW region. Ms O’Halloran noted that during this academic year, St Angela’s is offering five training programmes in Sligo, Donegal, Mayo, Carrick-on-Shannon and Monaghan Educational Centres.

This research investigated the training needs of SNAs in ten counties of the BMW region, in order to inform educational provision by St. Angela’s College, Sligo.

Ms Dolores McDonagh, Director of CSENID, explains the objectives of the research: The research considers SNAs working in mainstream schools, special schools and special classes across the region while the research aims to ascertain if whether and how the training needs identified are compatible with DES policy in relation to the role of the SNA.