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Special Needs Assistant - QQI Level 5 - Intensive 1 week

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1 Week


QQI Level 5


Awarding Body

Start Date

Start Date
August 2020

Special Needs Assistant - QQI Level 5 - Intensive 1 week

We are working remotely and are available to support you with any queries you have - please email Jenny at or call her on 01-8920031. Our academic delivery teams are all also working remotely and are supporting our students to continue with their studies through online learning or to get started for those just commencing their learning journey.  

This intensive Special Needs Assistant Certificate course is suited to anyone who has an interest in Special Needs Education, whether to pursue it as a career or use the knowledge for personal or family reasons.

The field of Special Needs Education is one of enormous variety and ever changing needs. Portobello Institute wish to respond to the true needs within the sector by offering a course that will equip our students not only with knowledge but with empathy and understanding crucial to their future role as support to persons needing assistance in their learning. Our research in the field has found that Special Needs Assistants require practical skills and knowledge in a wide range of behaviours and abilities. Thus, we try to encapsulate the lifelong experience of persons with Special Needs within our courses, in Level 5 and in greater detail at Level 6.

What is the role of a Special Needs Assistant?

Special needs assistants play an important role in supporting those with learning, physical or behavioural difficulties. The role of an SNA in the classroom involves assisting the teacher to support students with special educational needs who may also have significant care needs. Through education, knowledge and understanding an SNA can ensure that a child with special needs experiences a positive learning experience developing their confidence and independence.

Why should I study this course?

Portobello Institute's QQI level 5 Minor Award in Special Needs Assisting gives you the opportunity to learn from a range of experts all of whom are passionate about the field of special needs education. They bring their insight, depth of experience and passion for teaching to this course. Portobello Institute’s Special need course will learn to support and understand the process by which a child with learning, physical or behavioural needs learns. This qualification will allow you to work alongside a in a school as well as care settings.

What will I learn during this QQI Level 5 Minor Award Special Needs Assisting?

During this course, you will learn about development and learning in children with special needs and about the role of an SNA. You will learn about child development and behaviour theories and how a range of activities can promote physical, social, emotional and intellectual development in children with learning, physical and behavioural disabilities. You will develop the capacity to work and communicate effectively with parents, families, colleagues and other professionals to safeguard, support and promote children’s learning, development and well-being.

How will I learn?

This QQI level 5 award has been re-designed for delivery by webinar and online learning. It is very suited to you if you are want to study from home whilst gaining this qualification. During the induction, you will be given your log-in details to the online portal,  "ePortobello". Here you will find course notes, reading lists, articles of interest and assessment guidelines. The content is structured in an easy to "find and follow"  format. You will need basic computer skills such as searching the internet and typing a word document.

There is one to one expert tutor support available to you through out your learning journey. You can upload your assessments and your tutor will give you feedback on whether you are on the right track. Blended learning allows you to study at your time with support available  when you need it.

Each morning you will attend a Webinar from 10am to 12.30pm delivered by an experienced SNA lecturer. You will spend the afternoon completing coursework in preparation for the next session the following morning. This course is delivered over 5 days with a submission date for assignments after the course has completed. You may choose to study the level 6 course the following week and a special rate is available when booking both courses together.

What is a Webinar?

A webinar, in the context of online learning, is a lecturer delivering a presentation or class online to a group of students. We use specifically designed elearning software so you can participate in the class just as if you were present in the same room. You can ask a question of the lecturer at any stage during the class. The software is designed with "break-out rooms" where you can discuss a topic or complete a group exercise with a smaller group from your class. You will need a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone that has internet connection, an audio facility so you can hear and speak during the class and a camera so your lecturer and fellow class participants can see you. The webinar is a secure online environment and only those permitted entry by the lecturer can gain access to the "classroom".

Special offer applies when booking Level 5 & 6 together with new low price of €950.

Who will I learn from?

The programme management and tutoring team on course have been carefully selected on the basis of their qualifications and wealth of practical experience in the sector and education. Each member of our tutoring team is passionate about the effects a special needs assistant has on a child’s development and are eager to share their knowledge and experience with you. Meet our Team by clicking here

Who will recognise this qualification?

Upon completing this course, you will hold a QQI Level 5 Minor Award in Special Needs Assisting enabling you to work as an SNA. This course is an essential introduction to the role of an SNA and theories in special needs education that will prepare you for QQI Level 6 Minor award in special needs assisting should you wish to further your studies.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be awarded the QQI Level 5 minor award (5N1786) Special Needs Assistant

Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.

Our experienced course adviser team are available to support you with your programme choice. If you are unsure if this programme is right for you, please email for further advice or call her on 01-8920031. We will support you to  select the course best suited to your career ambition and interests.

In response to the current Covid-19 shutdown, Portobello Institute has re-designed this course for delivery as an elearning and Webinar course. We have extensive experience delivering elearning courses and have the resources that are specifically designed for delivering courses to an elearning audience. Your course will run at a specific time each day when you will log-on and your tutor will deliver the content over a 2.5 hr period with a break of 10minutes half-way through. You can ask a question at any stage and hear the questions and responses of other students attending this course. Your tutor is available up to 15 minutes before class so you may log-on early and seek support if there are any areas of the content that you need additional support with. Alternatively, our full-time programme manager is available to support you throughout your learning journey.

Course materials are structured to be accessed on a day by day basis and are available to download from our elearning platform as you progress through the course. Assignments are all designed for completion at home and once completed, you will upload these to the elearning platform. Feedback and results are posted here for you to access too.

You will have the opportunity to engage with your fellow course colleagues as if you were in class together - all from the comfort and safety of your chosen environment. Webinars are available to download at a later stage should you miss a class making this a very flexible and convenient mode of learning.

Work Experience Programme

During this course you will be required to complete 20 hours on a work placement in a special needs assisting setting. This placement will not take place until after Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. During the placement you will have the opportunity to put into practice the exercises and skills you will have learned during the programme. You will have the opportunity by using these skills to stimulate, develop and guide the children under your direction to develop to their full potential. We aim to ensure you that have the opportunity to gain experience in a setting that is aligned with your career ambitions.

The Role of the Special Needs Assistant

Equal Opportunities Child Development(Overview)

Theories of Learning and Behaviour

Physical and Intellectual Disabilities

Communications and Language Disabilities

Work Experience*

* 20 Hours Work experience is required

The learning outcomes for this programme are as follows;

1. Explore the role and responsibilities of the Special Needs Assistant
2  Examine the qualities and skills of an effective Special Needs Assistant
3  Examine relevant legislation in relation to disability
4  Explore the rights of children with disabilities in relation to personal autonomy, participation and decision making
5  Relate effectively and appropriately to children who present with additional needs
6  Use care routines in feeding, toileting and general hygiene
7  Maintain appropriate relationships with children parents, primary carers, teachers and other members of the multidisciplinary team
8  Work effectively with children who present with disabilities under the direction of the classroom teacher
9  Assist children with disabilities in a range of activities, ensuring equality of opportunity through working in a safe and professional manner
10  Reflect on personal practice working with children, their parents or guardians and colleagues ensuring that children's individuality is promoted and that their needs are met

For those that wish to progress to their Level 6 award in Special Needs we have scheduled a continuation course in each region to start the following week after the Level 5 course ends.


Course price €595

Special offer applies when booking Level 5 & 6 together with new low price of €950.

Our experienced course adviser team are available to support you with your programme choice. If you are unsure if this programme is right for you, please email for further advice or call her on 01-8920031. We will support you to  select the course best suited to your career ambition and interests.


“It is a very insightful course not only for the role of an SNA but also for anyone working with children including parents.” Read more

Alban Hysa


“The option to complete the course over a week particularly suited my needs and overall goal. “ Read more

Apply Now

Course Code Location & Info Price
EYS5-I-DS-AUG-20 Portobello Institute, Dublin 1

17/08/20 - 21/08/20
Mon - Fri, 9.30am - 4.30pm
€595 Book Now
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