RespectForSNAs campaign must be acted on by Minister
Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has today (Tuesday, 21st June) called on Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Deputy Josepha Madigan, to clarify her position on basic qualifications and accreditation for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) as a matter of urgency.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin was speaking at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education during a discussion on the need for revised criteria for SNAs, where he highlighted the fact that the focus of the campaign by SNAs and Fórsa is respect for SNAs and outlined a number of key areas the Minister has the power to improve.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“SNAs are still classified as a scheme within the Department of Education. The Minister seems to be unaware that this classification of the role of an SNA as a scheme is a major problem and something that must be addressed. In all reality, a scheme means insecure work for people and no sense of permanency for a school. The Minister must commit to changing that and her answers today do not fill us with confidence.
“Unfortunately, the lack of respect for SNAs in our education system runs very deep. They live with it every day. In a school, a teacher will often be called by their second name while the SNA is called by their first name and that’s a very clear indication in the school of who is deserving of more respect. Everyone can see that, everyone can hear that, that sends a very strong message.”
Addressing Minister Madigan directly, he said: “It doesn’t just depend on how the teacher treats them or the school treats them, it’s about how the department treats them. Would you accept that there’s a link between the disrespect some SNAs experience and this minimum requirement issue?”
“The CPD that is available to teachers isn’t available to SNAs. There are different rates of pay for July provision for the same work. On a day-to-day basis SNAs are asked to do menial tasks in a classroom setting or the school setting, and a lot of this is based on the basic requirements and the status of the SNA within the school.”