Special Needs Assistants and Non-Teaching Support


Appropriate diabetes management during school hours is necessary for your child’s immediate safety, long-term well-being and optimal academic performance. The goal of diabetes care during school is the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels so that your child may fully partake in all educational and social activities in the same way as their peers.


Younger primary school pupils with diabetes, require the support of an adult to safely facilitate diabetes care while attending school. Over time, with training and support, your child might be expected to undertake more of their own diabetes related care tasks under supervision, but this depends on the individual child’s developmental capabilities. This means that the older child and adolescents (depending upon their abilities) may be carrying out diabetes self-management tasks as needed.


A special needs assistant (SNA) is employed by the school in a care and support role that is non-teaching and works under the guidance and supervision of the principal and/or class teacher.  The SNA allocation is for the school rather than child specific and the school allocates the SNA hours prioritising the primary care needs of pupils. The management of Type 1 diabetes is a primary care need as due to the child’s young age (in primary school) they cannot self-manage their diabetes.


As per the department of education in May 2021 the SNA allocation that has been in place for the 2020/2021 school year will rollover for the upcoming academic year. If a school feels that this SNA allocation is no longer adequate for the student needs, they can apply for an “exceptional review of SNA allocation”.


The paediatric diabetes team is best placed to determine the level of non-teaching support that is needed as they know the diabetes management schedule and the child’s capabilities. If an SNA is supporting a child with diabetes, they will need additional training from the parents and diabetes team to meet the primary care needs of the child with diabetes competently during the school day.


See the part of the HSE guidelines on Determining Need for Non-Teaching Support




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