A review of the Special Needs Assistants Scheme is to take place. It will be carried out by the National Council of Special Education to see if the scheme is achieving the best outcomes for children with special needs.
The NCSE says while the scheme is valued by parents, students and schools, there is some frustration at its narrow focus which it suggests should be expanded.
Fórsa which represents almost 8,500 special needs assistants nationwide, has said proposals for a new model of support for children with special education needs – which would see the majority of support posts allocated ahead of time – means there is no excuse for the Government not to give SNAs equal job security to other public servants.
The union’s deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan was responding to the publication of a report by the National Council for Special Education today, which made a series of recommendations about the service.
”There is absolutely no excuse for the department and the minister not to give SNAs equal job security to other public servants – particularly teachers. The proposal to allocate support posts ahead of time, with frontloaded supports, can be viewed as a positive development provided it’s followed through.”
Mr Callinan said the union is now calling on the Department of Education and Skills to immediately engage with the union on the issue of aligning SNA job security with that of other public service workers.
He said the union was also concerned about the move away from allocating the service to children based on a diagnosis.
“There is a worry – from the point of view of parents – that if we have a change of the system, where it’s not based on diagnosis, will every single child be able to vindicate the right to access mainstream education?
“We’re calling for a locally-based and independent appeals mechanism that would be responsive. A system that could look at situations quickly and that their recommendations would be implemented,” he said.