SNA contract issues
Advice on the '72 Hours' and supervision
by Sean Carabini

As SNAs will know, there is a bank of hours that, should there be work available, SNAs can be called on to work from time to time. It's important to note that the '72 hours' is not a target. In many schools, there will be no need to work any additional time during the year.

More significantly, an SNA can only be asked to undertake work that is SNA-appropriate during this time.

Over the years we've come across some examples of work that SNAs have, on occasion, been asked to undertake that are unacceptable.

We are compiling a list of examples of these unacceptable practices. This list isn't exhaustive. We'll add to it if we discover other unacceptable and inappropriate practices.

The unacceptable practices identified so far include:
1. Gardening
2. Cleaning toilets
3. Working at the reception
4. Directing traffic
5. Laminating and shredding for the whole school
6. Painting classroom
7. Making tea/coffee for teachers and parents during meetings
8. Bar coding all books in the school
9. Cleaning the library
10. Building maintenance
11. Cleaning windows
12. Cleaning cars
13. Cleaning and mopping the floor
14. Homework club
15. Book covering
16. Cleaning
17. Administration/clerical Work (any work that would take work away from, or would normally be completed by a school secretary, including general school filing and shredding)
18. Breakfast clubs
19. Cleaning out lockers
20. Photocopying for the whole school population
21. Summer Camps
22. Music Camps
23. Sports Camps
24. Book rental scheme (including handling money for the scheme)
25. Work in school library (all aspects, including organising and scanning books, entering books onto database, etc)
26. Covering books for the whole school
27. Stamping books for the whole school

SNAs are allocated to schools to work to meet the case needs of children. It is very important for the sustainability of the role that SNAs do not undertake work that waters down their job.


Does an SNA have a supervision function?

The responsibility for supervision cannot be delegated to SNAs. This is clarified in Circular 30/2014, which confirms that supervision is a responsibility that lies with a teacher and not an SNA. It is, however, part of the SNA role to assist teachers with supervision but, generally, an SNA cannot be left in sole control of a class or playground.

Appendix 1 of the SNA contract clarifies this:

“Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils during assembly, recreation and dispersal from the classroom for one reason or another.”

This means that if a teacher is present and supervising, an SNA may assist. However, an SNA may not supervise by themselves. It's not part of their contract. There are only very limited circumstances where a school can make a case to allow an SNA to supervise.

It is particularly important to note that the Department of Education and Skills has a substitution scheme in place where a teacher is absent. There are no circumstances where, in the absence of a teacher, an SNA should be expected to take control of a class.

SNA contract issues: archive

Since April we've been publishing a special segment focussing on contract issues facing SNAs. Devised and written by Assistant General Secretary Seán Carabini, It has proved to be one of the most popular items in the Education news bulletin.

We've archived all of these items for ease of access, and will publish an updated archive in each future edition of the bulletin.

If you have SNA contract issues you'd like to see covered in the bulletin, please contact Please include 'SNA contract issues for the news bulletin' in the subject heading.

How is the pay for part time hours calculated?
Notice periods
Panel Appeals
Displacement: Are You Doing Someone Else’s Job?
Standard contract for 2018/2019 school year
SNA allocation FAQs
The NCSE's SNA review: main points and recommendations
Q&A: NCSE Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme
Post fragmentation
I was a full-time SNA but have had my hours cut. Am I entitled to any redundancy payment?

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