Tuesday 20 March 2018

Row as more special needs posts face axe

John Walshe

EDUCATION Minister Batt O'Keeffe is warning that more special needs assistants will be axed in schools -- on top of 200 positions already lost.

But he is defending the cuts by claiming that any child needing an SNA will get one.

"All that is being done is to remove posts where the children have left or their care needs have diminished," said Mr O'Keeffe. But the reduction has angered the trade union IMPACT, which says the 211 posts were lost between February and December.

An unknown number were lost at the beginning of this month when the deadline for transition arrangements ran out.

The union claims that as a result of a forthcoming report from the National Council for Special Education, up to 1,200 posts will be lost altogether, although Mr O'Keeffe has disputed this figure.

Sources told the Irish Independent that losses in some areas where pupils no longer need SNAs will be partially made up in other schools where posts will be created for new pupils coming in.

However, the criteria for appointing SNAs will be more rigorously adhered to than in the past.

The union represents half of the 10,000 SNAs in schools. Assistant general secretary Philip Mullen said that the department's reluctance, or refusal, to offer any clarity had only added to the existing level anxiety of the workers involved.

It was also a cause of major concern to teachers, principals and parents.

IMPACT has challenged Green education spokesperson Paul Gogarty to meet and discuss the issue. Mr Gogarty said last night he would have no difficulty meeting the union. He pointed out he had received an assurance that any savings made from the SNA review would be used to expand the National Educational Psychological Service.

Irish Independent

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