Special needs assistants (SNAs) should be allowed to serve on school management boards alongside their teaching colleagues, according to Fórsa. The union has criticised current legal arrangements that allow the election of teachers and community representatives to boards, but leave out other school staff.
In a recent submission to an Oireachtas education committee investigation, the union also insisted that the education department must consult with SNAs before implementing recommendations made in a review of the role, which was undertaken by the National Council for Special Education last year. It said this was particularly important in respect of “any new educational requirements and any necessary changes to contracts of employment.”
The number of SNA posts has almost doubled from since 2006, and now stands at around 15,000. “This has made it possible for some 34,600 students in 4,000 schools to attend school. This support varies from student to student and always with the goal of ensuring that students develop their independent living skills to the greatest extent possible,” the union said.
The union submission also raised again the problem of inappropriate tasks being assigned to SNAs during the 72 hours of additional duties they are obliged to undertake each year outside of classroom time.
“There are no productivity gains associated with this measure and there is no appreciable benefit to students or the school,” it says. The union wants the 72 hours to be used for continuous professional development and a range of productive areas of work aimed at improving the student experience.
Read the submission HERE.