A one-year pilot of the new ‘School Inclusion Model’ scheme, which is taking place in 75 schools in Dublin and surrounding counties from September, has the potential to improve job security for SNAs, following assurances won by Fórsa.
Assistant General Secretary Seán Carabini explained: “At present, the SNA allocation model is based on a single criteria: is there an assessed need? Therefore, if anything happens to that one criteria, it is far too easy to cut an SNA job.
“The new allocation model will be based on up to five criteria, which will help to secure a child’s access to the service, and make it much harder to cut an SNA job,” he said.
Seán explained that Fórsa has won assurances that when the new model is trialed in the pilot area, if it shows the SNA allocation should have increased, new SNAs will be assigned.
He said Fórsa SNA representatives have continued to meet with the Department of Education to better understand the aims of the pilot, and the opportunities that it might bring to the SNA role.
“In general, the purpose of the pilot is not to change the role of the SNA. It is, rather, designed to bring in additional supports to schools, such as occupational and speech and language therapy, as well as address the issue of SNA allocations and SNA professionalisation,” he said.
Seán said the union was working with the pilot scheme in order strengthen the SNA allocation model and work toward improving job security and decreasing the incidences of post fragmentation, as well as securing minimum training standards for SNAs. He said branch representatives are continuing to insist on a level 6 QQI training qualification as the minimum for new-entrant SNAs.
He added the union was disappointed to note that almost 29 SNA posts were cut under the current allocation model in the pilot schools area in May. “We realise that a new allocation model is necessary for SNAs. In the meantime, Fórsa met with Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh and asked that these SNA cuts be reversed,” he said.