Budget 2018: Boost to SNA service must include timely allocations – IMPACT

Barry Cunningham
“The allocation of 1,000 extra posts next year creates a greater need for the timely publication of allocations” – Barry Cunningham

Union says growing Special Needs Assistant service demands improved planning

IMPACT trade union, which represents almost 8,000 special needs assistants (SNAs) nationwide, has welcomed the additional 1,000 extra SNA posts announced today (Tuesday 10th October)  as part of Budget 2018.

IMPACT assistant general secretary Barry Cunningham said the expansion of SNA services is both timely and necessary. “The increase is a welcome sign that the importance of investment, into special education services, is being recognised by the Government,” he said.

Mr Cunningham said the Department of Education & Skills has confirmed to IMPACT that the total number of additional posts is 1,091. Of these, 130 posts will be available between January and June 2018, with the balance of posts from September 2018.

“This will make a difference to children with special education needs and their families all over the country. Demand continues to grow for this vital education service, so the additional investment is welcome,” he said.

Industrial action ballot

Mr Cunningham added that the increase in SNA numbers demands a more timely publication of the school term SNA allocations. In recent years these have been delayed until as late as July.

IMPACT’s SNA members are currently being balloted for industrial action in response to four successive years where the Government has failed to publish SNA allocations before the end of the summer term.

The delays have meant that SNAs don’t know if they have a job to return to the following school year, but are unable to apply for redeployment in the event that they don’t.

Mr Cunningham added, “The allocation of SNAs is a demanding process, and we recognise that more planning will be needed to ensure the appropriate allocation of 1,000 extra posts next year. However, this creates a greater need for the timely publication of allocations.”

The ballot of SNAs, which closes this Friday (13th October) is for industrial action, up to and including strike action, to achieve:

  • A guarantee that, in future, SNA allocations will be announced in sufficient time (no later than May) to allow the Supplementary Assignment Panel – and distribution of available hours to serving staff – operate to full effect
  • Arrangements in respect of job security on a par with teachers and other public servants
  • An agreed procedure for dealing with SNA grievances and issues (including proposals to resolve or refer to an agreed process all outstanding cases).