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Matthews Offers Support to SNA Campaign

Date: 9 December 2021

Deputy Steven Matthews was speaking after the online conference hosted by the Forsa Trade Union that represents thousands of Special Needs Assistants (SNA) across the country. The campaign titled ‘Respect for SNAs’ is seeking to increase the minimum qualification requirements for new hires – which reflects the high level of training attained by the vast majority in the sector, the minimum requirements for many schools and reflects the highly complex nature of the role. Discussing the campaign, Deputy Matthews said:

“I have written to Minister Foley in recent days offering my full support to the ‘Respect for SNAs’ campaign and asked for her Department to urgently engage with the unions representing this sector.

“The current entry requirements for the SNA role in schools has not been changed since 1979 and while the Department of Education has accepted that a review of the role may be required, there has been very little urgency placed on this issue at a senior Government level. During the last 40+ years our understanding of the additional needs that children may have and the supports that are needed to ensure that they are given the opportunity to reach their full educational potential has increased dramatically.

“When the covid restrictions have allowed, I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit schools across Wicklow to see the work of SNAs both in mainstream classrooms and in Special Education Needs (SEN) classes first-hand. The work that they do is highly varied, challenging and requires significant experience and training to deal with day-to-day classroom situations.

“The vast majority of SNAs currently employed in our schools have 3rd level qualifications but the current definition of the role does not reflect this degree of professionalisation. The reality is that most schools set their own basic third level requirements when advertising for SNA vacancies so this proposed change for the Department of Education would simply be reflecting what already exists in practice.

“I welcomed the opportunity to attend the recent online conference and have been in frequent contact with a number of SNAs from across Wicklow about their campaign. I hope to be able to meet with them in person in the new year to continue my support and I look forward to working with my Green Party colleagues and the Minister’s office in the coming months to work towards getting the level of respect, at a Government level, that our SNAs deserve. SNAs are a fully integral part of the education system and they want to be recognised and respected for the professionals that they are, concluded Deputy Matthews.



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