Fórsa trade union, which represents approximately 12,000 special needs assistants (SNAs) nationwide, has welcomed the outcome of a review by UCD’s School of Education Teaching and Learning Committee, that the national online training programme for SNAs meets the standards of a NFQ Level 7 certificate.
Welcoming the decision, Fórsa’s head of Education Andy Pike described it as a ‘milestone’ in the development of accredited training for SNAs, taking them a step closer to the professionalisation of the SNA role.
Mr Pike said: “This is a course designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of those who support the most vulnerable children within the education system, and a significant number of our members have embraced the opportunity to develop their own skills and professional practise.
“We were advised today (Wednesday 13th July) by UCD that the university is now requesting the Department of Education to offer this programme as an accredited Level 7 Certificate programme. It’s a huge moment, not alone for the SNAs, but for the future of the service and those who access it.
“Fórsa continues to campaign to increase the minimum essential qualifications for SNAs. This decision, which follows on from a commitment to consider accreditation by the Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Jospeha Madigan TD, last April, will be welcomed by our members,” he said.
UCD School of Education, in collaboration with UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, developed the programme for SNAs in partnership with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and funded by the Department of Education.
Minister of State Josepha Madigan told members of the Oireachtas Education Committee in June that departmental officials were engaged in an intensive process with UCD to consider accreditation of the SNA course, and that she believed this process would be completed by the end of 2022.
In February this year 500 SNAs graduated from the programme, the first group of students to successfully complete the certificate in Inclusive School Support, developed by UCD for SNAs working in the Irish education system. A second cohort of approximately 900 students have just completed it.
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