The union representing education support workers in Saskatchewan says special needs in the classroom are growing while educational assistant jobs are being cut.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees released figures Wednesday to show that the number of students with intensive special needs is up, but 350 teacher aid jobs have been cut in the last four years.

"Teachers are just struggling to perform the tasks of the academic expectations for students," Jackie Christianson, an official with the union, said Wednesday. "They need help in the classroom and you're taking away that front-line help that they need."

Donna Harpauer, Saskatchewan's minister of education, said staffing choices are made by individual school boards and many are hiring specialized teachers.

"Some schools are moving towards more special needs teachers," Harpauer said. "There is occupational therapists being hired, there is counsellors being hired."