SNA training programme a ‘very small and overdue step forward – but not nearly sufficient’ says Fórsa
Union representing 11,000 SNAs criticises department’s failure to accredit new programme
Fórsa trade union, which represents more than 11,000 special needs assistants (SNAs) nationwide, has welcomed the announcement today (Monday) by Minister for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD of the launch of a new National Training Programme for SNAs.
The union described the measure as a ‘very small and overdue step forward’, but criticised the failure to provide an accredited programme of training.
The new programme is to commence in January 2021, consisting of five modules delivered over a ten-month period with 3,500 places available on the programme over four years.
The fact that the department has refused to accredit the training programme is a significant shortfall as the decision undermines the value of the programme.
Fórsa’s head of Education Andy Pike said the available capacity was insufficient to meet the growing need for continuing professionalisation for the country’s 17,000 SNAs: “Training is always welcome and much needed and we recognise the fact that some 16 years after the statutory SNA scheme was established the Department of Education and Skills has finally decided to provide limited professional training for a small number of SNAs over the next three years.
“However, this training programme should be accredited at QQI level 6. The fact that the department has refused to accredit the training programme is a significant shortfall as the decision undermines the value of the programme,” he said.
Mr Pike said the union will utilise available options to challenge the decision not to accredit the training: “We believe that the case for the provision of a level 6 qualification for SNAs is undeniable, and it’s high time the derisory SNA entry requirements were modernised to reflect the complexities of the work SNAs are asked to carry out in our schools.”
He added that the national training programme marks the first step along the road to professionalising the role of the SNA: “Unfortunately this very small first step represents a missed opportunity to recognise the value of SNAs to students and schools.”