A Career as a Special Needs Assistant

In recent years we have seen new personnel employed in schools, namely Special Needs Assistants.

A child has special needs if he or she has a learning difficulty, which may be as a result of a physical or sensory disability, emotional/behavioural problems or developmental delay.

With the recent integration of children with special needs into mainstream primary and secondary schools as well as crèches, day nurseries and play schools, the number of Special Needs Assistants has grown considerably.

The Special Needs Assistant works as part of the school team in supporting the child with special needs, the teacher and the school. They work very closely with the needy child whose quality of school experience can depend quite significantly on the knowledge and skills of the assistant.

Special Needs Assistant Certificate

This part-time course in the School of Practical Childcare is designed for people who are working, or planning to work, with children with special needs, as a Special Needs Assistant in the classroom setting, as a Care Assistant Worker in a day care/residential setting, or a preschool setting.

The course aims to meet the training needs of those working or volunteering as Special needs Assistants, to develop skills, knowledge and understanding of the role of the Special Needs Assistant and to promote good practice amongst those working with special needs children in the classroom situation.

A minimum of 50 hours placement (paid or voluntary) in an educational setting, or similar, working with individuals with special needs is required. Those currently working in the area may undertake their work experience within that area.

Further information

The School of Practical Childcare
01 2886994

The Church of Ireland College offers a training course for Special Needs Assistants. This course is funded by the In-Career Development Unit of the Department of Education and Science. It is organised on a part-time basis with participants attending for a week at the end of August and for a series of weekend seminars held throughout the school year.

Admission to the course is currently open to Special Needs Assistants who are working full-time in primary, post-primary and special schools and who have completed a twenty hour induction course offered by Education Centres nationwide.

Further information

Church of Ireland College of EducationUpper Rathmines Road, Dublin 6Tel: + 353 (0)1 497 0033 Email:


Special Needs Assistants have a structured pay scale and all other entitlements attached to that post. The requirement for this post is Junior Certificate. A temporary resource teacher, whether trained or untrained, receives over €27.00 per hour with pension and benefits.

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Debbie O'Halloran