Minister for Education Richard Bruton has announced the approval of additional funding to allow for a 7% increase in special needs assistants in schools for the next school year.

The number of SNAs employed in schools has been on the rise in recent years due to an increased number of children presenting with special needs.

Last year the number of SNAs increased by over 7% to meet demand, and today Minister Bruton sought Cabinet approval for a similar rise this year.

This will increase the number of SNAs working in schools by 860 to 12,900 by the end of the year.

The schools will be provided by next December and funding for the additional posts will come from within the Department of Education's existing budget. 

Minister Bruton said the additional funding will contribute to making sure children with special educational needs can "fully participate in schools and maximising their chances of going on to other opportunities."

He also said he has asked the National Council for Special Education to carry out a "comprehensive assessment" of the SNA scheme. He said the review will be aimed at providing better outcomes for students and ensuring the best additional investment for children with special needs is being made.

SNAs provide non-teaching support to pupils, helping with things like using the toilet or mobility.

Six weeks ago an increase of 9% was announced in the number of resource teachers working in schools.

This increase is also due to the growing number of students qualifying for such supports.