The Rural Independent Group has urged the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to acknowledge that a lack of job security as wells as an exhaustive application process are among some of the obstacles preventing the full participation of Special Needs Assistants in schools. Speaking ahead of the Rural Groups’ Private Members motion on the issue this evening, Deputy Mattie McGrath said that SNA’s are still being treated by the Department as optional extras instead of being seen as vital members of the school teaching staff:
“For all of the rhetoric around this government’s commitment to increasing the amount of SNA’s it has done practically nothing with respect to facilitating the SNA as a permanent member of staff.
It is because of this that schools, and in particular, Principals and Boards of Management are telling us that they have to spend a significant amount of time making applications each year for SNA support for their schools.
The Rural Independent Group is therefore calling on the Minister and the government to provide job security to SNAs by providing permanent employment contracts.
We are also calling on them to review the SNA supplementary assignment panel arrangements, as substitute work should be taken into consideration to enable all SNAs to gain entry onto the panel.
At present we have an absurd to situation whereby an SNA’s service in a substitute capacity, i.e., covering for maternity leave, sick leave, career breaks, job-sharing, etc does not count toward obtaining the required one year’s service that allows an SNA to become a member of the supplementary panel.
That must change.
At present parents are operating in a vacuum with regards to obtaining certainty around the assignment of an SNA for their child. That kind of stress is totally unacceptable.
We hope that the Minister seriously takes on board our suggestions and will move to adopts policies to address the deficits we have identified in the SNA system,” concluded Deputy McGrath.