Special Needs Assistants are recruited to assist in the care of pupils with additional needs in a non-teaching nature in an educational environment.  In general terms an SNA is a care and support role, working under the guidance and supervision of the class teacher.

SNAs can work with a range of ages in a mainstream school or a dedicated special needs school. They make a huge contribution in supporting those through their time in education while providing a safety net for the child, and a friendly face they can grow to trust. They help special needs pupils access all areas of the curriculum, including PE and IT, while socialising in the company of other children.

Expectations over the role can vary significantly from school to school.   Generally, no two days are ever the same with every day bringing a new challenge and reward. Special Needs Assistants work normal school hours, Monday to Friday during school term.  Hours are mainly spent in the classroom, with occasional travel on school outings and social activities. 


A SNA is said to have multiple qualities including:

Caring in nature

Excellent communication skills

Literacy and numeracy skills

The ability to deal with challenging behaviour

Creative and practical skills for activities and displays


Work can depend on the age of the children and their individual needs, but may include:

Preparing learning materials under the supervision of the teacher

Creating a stimulating environment

Working inside or outside the classroom with individuals 

Adapting support according to needs

Looking after children's physical, social and emotional needs

Giving information and help to teachers


Why do it? 

Special Needs Assisting is without doubt a rewarding career. The obvious question to ask is do you love working with children and have a genuine desire to work with children with special needs.  Special needs assistants are dedicated, resourceful and passionate about their work and are ultimately a valuable asset in any classroom.  

If this sounds like you we would love to chat to you today about starting a career in special needs education.  We offer numerous regional and Dublin based locations with flexible study options from 12 week courses, through to intensive and distance learning courses. 

Portobello Institute offers both Special Needs Assistant QQI Level 5 & 6 courses. The Level 5 is the industry standard and covers all fundamental required for the role.  The Level 6 courses offer broader knowledge and a greater understanding of the issues surrounding disabilities and learning difficulties.

For full course details call us on 01 8920000