Respect for SNA's

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SNAs throughout Ireland want the Department of Education to address the following issues which are affecting SNAs on a day to day basis

1. The NCSE guidelines - 13 recommendations have been made by the National Council of Special Education (NCSE) after a review last year. There are many questions SNA's have in relation to these recommendations but unfortunately the Department have not yet met with Forsa to discuss these recommendations. A pilot scheme will begin in September before a roll out is introduced. These recommendations go against the SNA standard contract and surely discussion should be had before these recommendations are introduced throughout the country. Please find the link to the review and recommendations.

2. Job Security - As you are aware SNA's have no job security, as they are hired if and when a child has specific care needs within the school. After one full school year SNA's, if made redundant are entitled to panel rights but in fact this Panel is not fit for purpose. More and more schools are ignoring the panel as a means of hiring SNA's and so SNA's with many years of experience are being made unemployed. This needs to be addressed and surely a panel, which is based on the Primary School teachers supplementary panel would be more beneficial to all involved.

3. 72 Hours - The 72 hours (formally 12 days) are a huge problem for SNA's throughout the country. The 72 hours are a bank of hours which may be used within schools to provide additional hours where SNA's can assist with SEN related work.

It has been confirmed that these hours are not a target to me be met but are additional hours which can be used if necessary. These hours are consistently being misused. SNA's are either sitting in school with no work to do in order for these hours to be completely or are completely highly inappropriate tasks such as: Washing teachers cars, cleaning staff rooms, cleaning sheds, refilling toilet rolls throughout the schools, office administration, fundraising activities, homework clubs, breakfast clubs, doing July provision/state exams without additional pay, covering books, cleaning lockers.... The list goes on and on.

Ideally we feel these hours should be abolished or at least reduced to the same as our colleagues the teachers. It is however, of the greatest urgency that a circular be sent to all schools in the country setting out exactly how these hours should be used and on what tasks.

4. Contractual Inequalities - SNA's know we are not teachers and would never wish to diminish their role in our schools. But there are in face several inequalities which SNA's feel is extremely unfair as we all work in the same schools with each other. SNA's are not entitled to breast feeding breaks, we are not entitled to a day off for our children's college graduation and we have different bereavement and health & safety leave. Surely as we all work together we should have the same entitlements in these cases.

5. Month of June - Another bone of contention with SNA's is the month of June. Secondary school SNA's are contracted to work the month of June, although these SNA's work more hours on a weekly basis. All SNA's are paid based on the standard SNA pay scale and so realistically these SNA's are working for less money. Again during this time SNAs are forced to to do tasks which are not their job.

6. Job Fragmentation - Over the past few years the Department of Education have issued statements saying that they are increasing the number of SNA's being employed. While this is in fact true, the number of SNA's who are having their hours decreased are increasing.