Fórsa is to commence a new national campaign to highlight the value of the role of special needs assistants (SNAs), following the Department of Education’s refusal of a union claim for a new minimum qualification for SNAs, which has not been altered since the introduction of the ‘Childcare Assistant’ scheme in 1979.
The union had sought a relevant QQI level six qualification, or the equivalent, to be essential criteria when new SNAs are hired. Many schools already seek a level six qualification, and don’t appoint new SNAs unless they at least hold a level five QQI award.
In a letter sent to the union late last week, the department stated that the current educational requirements do not need to be changed. In its submission to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Fórsa said Ireland is out of step with international standards for the qualifications required from SNAs, as many other countries require candidates for SNA posts to have a college diploma or certificate equivalent to a level six qualification.
From this week Fórsa will be mobilising efforts to demand recognition and respect for SNAs, and to apply pressure on the department to implement new minimum qualifications that properly reflect the demands of the profession, and we need you to get involved.