The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence in the practices and principles underpinning the role of a Special Needs Assistant.

The SNA module is typically held over 14 sessions. Learners usually complete a minimum of 30 hours work placement in a pre-school, primary, post-primary or special school where children with special educational needs are educated.* This enables the learner to gain invaluable experience through which they will be able to apply theory to the actual practice of working as a student SNA in an educational setting.

*Due to Covid-19 restrictions, it may not be possible for SNA students to complete work placements. Alternative assessment measures will  be in place in this instance.

This SNA module is like no other of its kind. It is a bespoke course that goes beyond the remit of the QQI learning outcomes to ensure that our learners graduate as exceptional SNA professionals.


The course is delivered by highly-experienced and qualified professionals in the field of special education. Mairéad McHale and Clare Dooley are qualified teachers. Both have worked in special schools and in autism classes.

Mairéad McHale is an educator in the further and higher education sectors delivering special education, disability, equality and sociology courses. She also facilitates special education CPD training to teachers and SNAs in schools and organisations. Mairéad holds a post-graduate diploma in Special & Inclusive Education and a Masters in Education. She worked for over 12 years in both a special school and in autism classes (within a mainstream school).

Clare Dooley is a mainstream junior infant teacher. She has over 15 years of experience teaching in mainstream classes, autism classes (within a mainstream school) and in a special school. She holds many special education CPD qualifications and has completed post-graduate studies in special education. She has a specific interest in well-being and emotional regulation.

Course outline

  • The context and history of SNA provision in Ireland.
  • Inclusion & equal opportunities.
  • Legislation pertaining to special education and disability.
  • The role of the SNA in accordance with the Dept. of Education and Skills.
  • The qualities and skills necessary to work as an effective SNA.
  • The importance of maintaining professional relationships with all members of the multidisciplinary team.
  • The role of SNA in facilitating activities of daily living (self-care skills).
  • Communication development.
  • Evidence-based strategies and approaches used in special education.
  • Positive approaches to behaviours that challenge.
  • Categories of special educational needs – Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, General Learning Disabilities, Specific Learning Difficulties etc.

Additional Learning

  • Academic writing and referencing skills.
  • Critical thinking and reflection skills.
  • Obtaining work as an SNA (CV/Interview skills workshop).

 Additional Workshops (optional)   

Learners will have the opportunity to enhance their learning and CVs by enrolling on any of the following professional development optional workshops. These workshops, with the exception of PECS and TEACCH, are typically 3-6 hours in duration and delivered over one Saturday or 1-2 evenings:

  • Lámh Sign Language (Module 1: The Alphabet plus 100 signs)
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) * 2-day course
  • TEACCH Autism Program *2-day course
  • Understanding Autism
  • Understanding Dyslexia
  • PRAISE Behaviour Support
  • First-Aid course tailored toward working in a school environment
  • Manual Handling
  • Multi-Sensory Maths Training

Venue: Leixlip Youth & Community Centre

Course 1: Morning Course (Fridays) * Face-to-Face Course

04 September – 11 December 2020 – Friday mornings 09:45-12:45

Course 2: Evening Course (Thursdays) * Blended Learning Course

*The evening course will be delivered using a blended learning approach. This involves a mix of face-to-face classes and online classes using the Zoom platform.

Face-to-Face Classes Thursday evenings 18:45-21:45 Dates: Sep 3rd & 17th | Oct 1st & 15th | Nov 12th & 26th | Dec 10th

Online Classes Thursday evenings 18:45-21:45 Dates: Sep 10th & 24th | Oct 8th & 22nd | Nov 5th & 19th | Dec 3rd


This course is assessed through two written assignments. There is a significant amount of work involved and the assignments must be typed/word processed and comply with referencing protocols. However, you will receive a lot of help and support during the course on the academic writing and referencing requirements. To enrol on this course, learners must have access to a PC or laptop with internet access. They must be confident in their ability to complete two word processed assignments for a QQI level 5 qualification.

Course Fee:

Standard fee: €430

Early Bird Offer: €395 – Balance must be paid in full on/before 07 AUG 2020. Pay €100 deposit on booking, then Early-bird balance of €295 by 07 AUG 2020.

Easy Payment Scheme (interest-free) * Terms & Conditions apply

Standard course fee may be paid for over 3 interest-free payments

Deposit                        €100 on booking to secure place (non-refundable)

Second payment       €165 due on/before 07 AUG 2020

Final payment           €165 due on/before  30 OCT 2020

*If you are booking within two weeks of course start date, please email info@synergylifelonglearning to discuss payment options

Booking Link (Card payments)

Other Payment Methods

Cancellation Policy

Further Course Requirements

To fulfil the course requirements, please note the following:

Learners must have the ability and skills required to complete a QQI level 5 course.
Learners must submit two typed/word processed assignments.
Assignments must be submitted by email on the final day of the course.
Learners must have an email account and access to the internet.
Course notes will be uploaded to an online file sharing platform. Hard copy printed notes will not be provided.
Student SNAs must complete 30 hours of work placement in a school setting where children with special educational needs are being educated. *Due to Covid-19 restrictions, work placements may not proceed during the SEP-DEC 2020 term.
Student SNAs must source the work placement hours themselves.*Due to Covid-19 restrictions, work placements may not proceed during the SEP-DEC 2020 term.
Student SNAs will be Garda vetted through Synergy & The Open College if required for student placements.
Garda vetting will also be completed by the school where student SNAs will carry out their work placement should placements proceed.
Deposits are non-refundable and terms & conditions apply to the ‘Easy Payment’ scheme. See following link  Interest Free Payments T&Cs

Progression to Further Studies

This course leads to a level 5 award on the National Framework of Qualifications and, on successful completion, participants will be qualified to work as SNAs in primary, post-primary and special school settings.

Students who successfully complete this programme may use this level 5 credit towards completing a QQI Major awards such as:

Level 5 Major award 5M2009 Early Childhood Care & Education

Level 6 Major award 6M2007 Early Childhood Care & Education

Level 5 Major award 5M2786 Community Care

Level 5 Major award 5M4468 Community Health Services

Further study options will be explored, including progression to University level 7 and level 8 part-time and full-time programmes.


 This SNA level 5 programme is in partnership with The Open College.

Programme is the latest CAS award validated by QQI and The Open College

If you have any queries, please email info@synergylifelonglearning.ie

* Each course is subject to a minimum enrolment of twelve learners.

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