IMPACT trade union, which represents more than 6,000 special needs assistants (SNAs) nationwide, has welcomed the approval of the report compiled by Senator Mary Moran – ‘The Role of the Special Needs Assistant’ – by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection today (Wednesday 13th January).
IMPACT’s deputy general secretary, Kevin Callinan, said that the consultation process for the report saw thousands of SNAs take part. “The huge level of participation by SNAs in the consultation process shows the level of commitment they have as stakeholders in education delivery. IMPACT made two presentations to the Oireachtas subcommittee last year, based on the experience and insights of our SNA members.
“There are a number of issues that SNAs wish to see addressed, based on years of service delivery experience, but if there is a common thread emerging it is that continued investment in SNAs, in the form of continuing professional development, is absolutely vital to ensure the service can grow and meet the needs of the children who need the service,” he said.
Mr Callinan added that IMPACT has run continuing professional development training for SNAs over the last two years. “These courses have been hugely popular with the membership, showing the level of professional commitment SNAs have as a group.”
Senator Moran said today that the report contains thirteen recommendations for consideration. “The main overarching goal is to ensure that children with additional needs, while attending school, receive the appropriate supports so that they may best achieve their personal and educational goals. The recommendations seek to address the inconsistencies that are present between SNA policy and the reality of how the role is administered in schools while keeping the needs of the student to the fore.”
The report is expected to be made available soon and Mr Callinan said the union would closely review the report’s recommendations.