Special Needs Assistant Courses

By Kevin Branigan - Last update

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Make a difference as a Special Needs Assistant

If you would like to work as classroom assistant (or currently do) and want to make a difference in what you do every day, consider a course as a Special Needs Assistant. Special Needs children in the classroom can often be difficult to manage, whether you are an assistant or a teacher.

Luckily, with the rise of SEN children in mainstream schooling, the training and education for assistants has improved enormously in the last 15 years. Even if you have been working with SEN children for some time, taking advantage of the new training can be highly beneficial.

What do Special Needs Assistants do in the classroom?

Generally, a Special Needs Assistant will be assigned to look after any children present in the classroom who have particular needs that are different from those of the rest of the class. These needs can take many different forms, from dealing with children who have mild ADHD to children who need full-time supervision.

Obviously, doing this can be a major challenge for assistants. A dedicated Special Needs Assistant course will do the following:

  • Ensure that all students have had the required training to become a successful Special Needs Assistant.
    o This includes the understanding of the role within the classroom setting, and how an SEN assistant fits into a classroom in a practical sense.
  • Provide all students with the skills and knowledge needed to enjoy a successful career.
  • Keep SEN assistants up to date with the latest guidelines for dealing with children who have special educational needs.
  • Provide graduates with a valuable qualification they can use to work in a real-life classroom setting.

What kind of courses are available?

Given the nature of this work, some courses do have a higher entry requirement than others. Please make sure that you meet course requirements before applying. Generally, courses ask for around 20 to 30 hours working in an SEN educational environment, whether paid or unpaid. Given the nature of the course, native English speakers are required.

Courses generally meet QQI levels 5 and 6, meaning that graduates will be able to work in schools across Ireland. Depending on your requirements, courses can take place in an active classroom, or in a theoretical setting, where students will not need to actually interact with SEN children as part of the course.

Garda vetting will also be required, due to the nature of the course, as is standard for any job working with vulnerable children. Courses are less flexible than other traditional night courses, given that they require a classroom element. They are comparatively short however, lasting only a few weeks, so if you have a busy schedule, you will not be impacted for long.

What can I do once I’ve finished?

Once the course has been successfully completed, graduates can boast a QQI level 5 or 6 depending on the course taken. This will enable them to show potential employers that they are qualified to deal with most events within a classroom setting. While this does not replace traditional teaching qualifications (so you will not be able to work as a teacher), it
does allow you to provide a supporting academic role to the children in the classroom.

If you are already a teacher, or are looking to supplement your qualifications, a Special Needs Assistant course can help you gain an edge in a competitive teaching marketplace. Whatever the reason you are looking to take a course, there is sure to be an option out there that is suited to your requirements and will help you make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children.

Kevin Branigan

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  1. Leonida 22/09/2021 at 20:44

    Hello, I would like to do SNA course, is the course class online or tutor? When start, thank you so much I hope there is space for me, thanks.

  2. Deirdre Keller 30/08/2022 at 22:41

    Hi, i am interested in becoming an SNA. Do you need to complete fetac level 5 &6 to become an SNA. How long does it take to complete the course?
    Thank you,

  3. Matt Kelly 27/10/2022 at 09:59

    To actually get a job do you need to complete a year of FT study or the would a 12 week online course be sufficient? I ask as presently I am at home with the kids and we wouldn’t be able to pay for child care however I do also need to get back to work and SNA is something that suits my skills and our Family life

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