Special Needs Assistant

"Crayons" by John-Morgan @Flickr
‘Crayons’ by John-Morgan @Flickr

QQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education – 5M2009.

Specialise in the childcare profession: learn to support and nurture children with special needs and abilities. Prepare to work as a special needs assistant (SNA) in pre-school, primary or secondary level schools.

Achieve the competence to work in a professional childcare team. Mentored by experienced childcare professionals, gain ongoing practical experience of special needs assisting alongside the academic knowledge of child development theory and practice.

Work placement is an integral part of the course. Learn your craft as part of a working professional team.

Start with a solid basis to progress to an advanced certificate in QQI at Mallow College or straight to degree level with UCC, CIT and elsewhere. Join our excellent graduate success rate and gain immediate employment in the growing childcare industry.

AwardQQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education – 5M2009.
FormatFull-time. September 2021 to May 2022.
LocationOnsite at Mallow Campus (online contingency in case of COVID regulations).
TimetableHours between Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 15:30.
RequirementsNo CAO required (Leaving Cert./LCA/equivalent for under 23s). Application review discussion.
StartingOrientation and classes starting the week of Monday the 20th of September 2021.
Fees€500 (SUSI/BTEA €300, Medical Card €250, VTOS €0).
ApplicationsApplications open. Places available. No deposit required to start your application.

Contact us at childcareadvanced@furthereducationcollege.ie for help and more information.

Career Prospects

  • Personal care assistant. +
  • Pre-school special needs assistant. +
  • Primary school special needs assistant. +
  • Secondary school special need assistant. +

Course Contents

Courses are continually developed – content and specific award components are subject to change. See disclaimer.


One year. Full-time. Class timetables to follow in September, and subject to change. See calendar for term holidays.


30 full-time day students will travel, fully-funded, with Erasmus+ to another European country for 2 weeks. Find out more and apply.

Entry Requirements

  • CAO points not required.
  • All applicants will be required to attend an application review discussion. An offer of a place on this course is contingent on the applicant meeting the minimum entry requirements set out here, and satisfactory presentation at interview.
  • Leaving Certificate or equivalent. For mature applicants appropriate experience will be considered in lieu of formal qualifications.


Garda Vetting

This course requires participants to be Garda vetted. Continued participation on the course and work placement is dependent on the successful completion of this process.

Work Experience

Work experience is an integral part of this course. Students spend four days a week in College and one day a week on practical work placement. There are also block placements throughout the year. The dates and duration will be specified by the College in September.


Advance to QQI level 6 in Early Childhood Care at Mallow College. Use your full QQI award to progress to degrees in Early Childhood Education, Social Care, Community Development, and Arts. For more links and detailed information on how to use your Mallow College qualification go to mallowcollege.ie/progressions.

A full QQI award achieves a maximum of 390 points for CAO.


Contact Us

Email us at childcare@furthereducationcollege.ie.