IMPACT trade union, which represents over 6,000 special needs assistants (SNAs) has given a qualified welcome to today’s (Wednesday) announcement of SNA allocations for the 2014-2105 school year.
The union said the additional 195 (or 3%) primary SNA posts, and the additional 68.5 (3.2%) post-primary posts, was welcome. However, its assistant general secretary Dessie Robinson said a detailed look at the figures revealed a further fragmentation of the posts allocated to many schools.
“Despite a slight aggregate increase in the number of SNA posts, many schools will find that their allocation is down. This may well result in a reduction of service to certain children with special needs and it will certainly mean a reduction in paid working hours for many low-paid special needs assistants. We are seeking a concrete commitment from the education department that it wil protect whole-time positions,” he said.
IMPACT also criticised the late publication of the allocation figures. “The department has issued the figures after the end of the post-primary school year and just two days before the end of the primary school year. This will inevitably mean some SNAs – and the children they support – will go into the summer uncertain about where they stand next September. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as last year, but it’s still not good enough,” said Mr Robinson.
Since last year, IMPACT has negotiated strengthened arrangements for the redeployment of redundant special needs assistants (SNAs) with the education department. Redundant SNAs are now placed on a redeployment panel and schools are obliged to interview SNAs from the panel – and to verify that they have followed the correct procedures within six weeks of making an appointment. The panel is also open to SNAs who lost their posts at the end of the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years.
IMPACT has told the Department of Education that it will be closely monitoring the full effects of the allocations on children and on jobs.
The union said that, despite the overall increase in posts, a number of counties had been given a reduced SNA allocation. They are: Clare, Kilkenny, Laois (post-primary), Longford (primary), Monaghan (post-primary), Sligo (post-primary), Waterford (primary) and Westmeath (primary).
County by county allocation information is available HERE.