Post fragmentation is where a post is sub-divided into smaller units. The union has long voiced concerns with such an approach to allocations, and has advocated for as many SNA posts as possible to be full time.
What, though, does the circular say?
Each year, the Department of Education and Skills revises and reissues the circular governing allocations. This circular, 34 of 2018, can be accessed here.
Section 17 states that where a school gains an extra allocation, it should generally follow the agreed protocol. Specifically, the additional posts should be offered to existing SNAs to bring them up to full time in the first instance.
Are there circumstances where this agreed protocol is not followed?
Yes – but the circumstances are very, very limited.
A SENO may recommend that an allocation should be split in a certain way. This recommendation may not always follow the circular. It's very important to note, however, that in such cases where a SENO makes such a recommendation, it's up to the school to decide whether or not to implement it.
A school that decides to follow a SENO recommendation must specifically invoke an ‘exception’. The SENO has no power to impose a recommendation. A school must decide that it wishes to impose it.
If, like this, a school decides to assign an allocation in a way that does not follow the normal course, they must give you the written determination from the SENO. It, too, should give a reasoned explanation as to why this is being done.
Can a school change an existing allocation?
This is important and will require careful reading: In cases where a school’s allocation has not changed or has increased, the circular does not give anyone the power to cut the hours of any existing SNAs. The hours of existing SNAs can only be cut in cases where the school loses allocations.
Section 17 of the circular is quite clear on this. It describes the exceptional circumstances where the normal, seniority-based mechanism for allocating hours can be overridden. But it very clearly states that this can only be done “Where a school/ETB has an additional allocation of SNA hours/posts”.
- Normally, a new allocation is offered, on the basis of seniority, to SNAs who don’t have full time hours
- In exceptional circumstances, a SENO may give a reasoned recommendation that the allocation be ‘fragmented’ differently
- Where this happens, the power lies with the school to accept or reject it
- If the school accepts the SENO recommendation, the SNA it affects must be given a copy of the recommendation (the SNA shouldn’t have to ask for it)
- All of this applies only to new allocations. Nothing in the circular allows the hours of existing SNAs to be cut, except in circumstances where the overall school allocation has been cut.
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