Fórsa has warned the Department of Education and Skills that its SNA members will not cooperate with a proposed special needs assistants’ (SNA) pilot project unless there is consultation and engagement with the union.
The union was responding to a newspaper report that the department has announced plans to roll out a special needs assistants’ (SNA) pilot project in 75 schools in Kildare, west Wicklow and parts of Dublin from September.
Fórsa officials made immediate contact with the department when the report appeared last week. The department confirmed that a pilot for a new school inclusion model for September is due to be announced in the coming weeks.
The union then issued a precautionary ‘non-cooperation’ instruction to members should any elements of the pilot scheme be rolled out in advance of discussions with Fórsa, which represents the country’s SNAs.
The union has repeatedly told the education department that discussions with SNA representatives will be necessary should the Department propose to implement recommendations arising from a 2018 National Council for Special Education (NCSE) review of the SNA service.
Fórsa official Sean Carabini said: “Such an engagement is necessary under the terms of the Public Services Stability Agreement (PSSA) and the union would view any attempt to implement any of the NCSE recommendations without talks as a breach of the agreement, which would trigger a stronger response from our members.”
Meanwhile, the Oireachtas education committee is now seeking written submissions on the status of non-teaching staff in schools to inform the committee’s 2019 work programme. This follows extensive lobbying representations by Fórsa.
Fórsa’s head of education Andy Pike said the union would be making its submission prior to the deadline: “The committee has sought submissions ahead of a committee hearing to be scheduled prior to Easter.”