Launch of the Respect For SNAs Campaign
by Andy Pike

Contact your branch to support the campaign and help get TD and Senators to sign the pledge to review the minimum qualification


Fórsa has today launched the ‘Respect For SNAs’ campaign with a request to all TDs and Senators to support our call for a review of the minimum essential qualification for SNAs.


The outdated requirement for just 3 D passes in the Junior Certificate lies at the heart of the problem of our SNAs not being respected or recognised as skilled and committed staff. Ensuring that all new SNAs have a more professional qualification at QQI Level 6 would increase the standing of SNAs within our schools and start the process of securing proper recognition for the work our members carryout.


The 'Respect' campaign also covers the forthcoming discussions with the Department of Education on the obligation to be available for 72 hours and June working, which are due to commence in the coming weeks alongside talks on changes to the national SNA contract.


What are we asking Political Representatives to do?

Our SNA Branches will be coordinating the campaign at local level and ensuring that all TDs are contacted in each constituency with a request to:

  • Support the minimum qualification campaign
  • Promote awareness of the complex role of the SNA in our schools
  • Encourage others to engage and learn about the work of SNAs

Politicians will be asked to endorse the campaign by signing a pledge. Your branch will be in touch with progress reports on how many TDs and Senators have supported the campaign in your area.


National Seminar on SNA Education and Training

On December 4th Fórsa will be hosting an online conference on the issue of minimum qualifications for special needs assistants. We will be hearing from the NCSE, academic experts, parents groups and SNAs on how education and training for SNAs could be improved.


Political briefing

On Tuesday December 8th the campaign will host a briefing session in the Dáil AV room for political representatives and their offices. This briefing will introduce the campaign and outline the case for new minimum qualifications for SNAs. We will be inviting all members of the Oireachtas to attend and we hope to see some of you there.


Key points in the #RespectForSNAs campaign

  • The campaign involves over 12,000 Fórsa SNA members
  • The original qualification standards were set in 1979 and have never been reviewed
  • The Department of Education has already acknowledged that a review might be necessary at some point in the future
  • The overwhelming majority of SNAs already have a qualification at and above Level 5
  • Ireland is out of step with international standards for the qualifications required to work as an SNA.

The qualification is not the only issue for this campaign:

Fórsa will be seeking the abolition of the 72 hour obligation and June working. The Department has already agreed to review the use of the hours. We want to see a see a new national SNA contract with the same leave and other entitlements for SNAs as for teachers. We will seek to ensure that SNAs are not used as a general resource by ensuring they can only be directed to work with students with additional educational needs. We want the frontloading and schools inclusion model to work for SNAs, delivering genuine job security and protection against any further cuts to hours.


The first step forward is to seek recognition of the complex nature of the SNA role through securing a proper review of the minimum qualification. Please help us achieve this objective by supporting the work of your branch in lobbying TDs & Senators.



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