Fórsa welcomes accreditation of UCD national SNA training programme

Fórsa has welcomed the announcement by the Department of Education, to accredit the UCD National SNA Training Programme as a Level 6 Special Purpose Award. The union represents more than 12,000 SNAs nationwide.

Fórsa’s head of Education Andy Pike said: “The decision to accredit the training at level 6 meets the terms sought by Fórsa since 2020. It also delivers on the commitment to accredit the course secured by Fórsa and confirmed at the hearing with the Dáil Joint Education Committee in June of this year,” he said.

Mr Pike said some 1,300 SNAs have completed the programme to date, which has been positively received throughout the sector.

He added: “The aim is to enrol a total of 3,500 SNAs over the four years of the programme up to the end of 2025. The Department has confirmed that UCD is now considering how those SNAs who’ve completed the programme, will have their award accredited retrospectively.

“The Department has also confirmed a commitment to provide further appropriate training and professional development opportunities for SNAs,” he said.

Mr Pike said that when the union had first requested accreditation of the new SNA Training Programme, it was told it could never happen: “We were told that 3 ‘D’ grade passes in the Junior Certificate was indeed the appropriate qualification for SNAs.

“Thanks to the #RespectforSNAs campaign we’ve achieved this significant breakthrough. It’s the first time the Department of Education has recognised the need for a formal qualification for the 20,000 SNAs working with students across the school sector. The accreditation of the course establishes the necessary momentum to review and change the minimum essential qualification to become an SNA,” he said.

Mr Pike said the union would continue to campaign to secure a new entry qualification, and said exploratory discussions on new CPD (continuing professional development) arrangements for SNAs will open shortly.

He added: “We’re very pleased that all the SNAs who have completed the programme will now receive a proper academic award from UCD and we await details from the School of Education on how this will work.

“It’s a very significant day for Ireland’s SNAs who, as a group, have taken the first step towards proper recognition and professionalisation of their role. Fórsa members really worked hard to achieve this change. We will now secure the necessary changes to the entry qualification, and hope to be able to deliver a new and improved SNA contract next year.”

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