IMPACT welcomes announcement of 400 new special needs assistant posts

IMPACT trade union today (Tuesday) welcomed the news that 400 additional
full-time special needs assistant (SNA) posts are to be created by the end of
next year. The union, which represents over 6,000 SNAs, said the additional
posts were essential to meet growing needs in classrooms. The number of SNA
posts has been capped at 10,575 for the last four years, while demand for SNA
services continues to grow.

IMPACT official Dessie Robinson said the full-time nature of the posts was
particularly welcome. “The recent practice of allocating portions of SNA posts
to schools, rather than full-time SNAs, has placed further financial and
organisational pressure on schools working to educate children with special
needs. These full-time posts are very welcome and will go some way to meeting
the increased demand in our schools. We hope it is also a sign that the
casualisation of the SNA role is being addressed,” he said.

IMPACT has been campaigning for more SNA posts and against the practice of
allocating portions of SNA posts to schools, which it says runs counter to the
terms of the Haddington Road agreement because it reduces SNA incomes.

In a submission to the joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social
Protection last month, IMPACT criticised the casualisation of the role of
classroom-based SNAs, which is rooted in the practice of making them redundant
when the child they assist leaves school, rather than allocating them to
another child or placing them on a panel of experienced SNAs to be available
when new needs arise. The union said it was “imperative” that a panel system,
which is a requirement of the Haddington Road agreement, should be fully
operational “well before the end of the 2013-2014 school year.”