herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Minister's fear over SNAs on jobs scheme

Schools which use the Government's JobBridge scheme to hire Special Needs Assistants are to be investigated.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has expressed concern that the scheme, set up to help people return to work or gain experience, is being used by schools to fill vacancies with inexperienced staff.

"I certainly want to be sure that there is no abuse in any way of the JobBridge scheme," Ms O'Sullivan said.

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It has emerged that 43 schools are currently advertising for 56 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) through the scheme.

"It's something that I will be examining in terms of what basis schools are hiring people through JobBridge", added the Minister, saying she did not want to see job replacement in the education sector.

Latest figures from the Department of Social Protection, which runs JobBridge, show that 182 people have taken positions under the scheme in the education sector in the past month.

This represents 18pc of all JobBridge placements for the period.

All of the schools, except one, are advertising for SNAs for primary level and the ads say that successful applicants will gain experience in the "safe supervision of children aged 4-9".

They say those taken on will work directly with children with special education needs "managing challenging behaviour", "recognising different forms of epilepsy", "feeding children at risk" and "attending to the personal hygiene needs of children".

In all cases the ads state that no experience is necessary.

The Minister stressed that the scheme should "not be about job replacement," she said. "It should be about providing an opportunity to get some experience."

hnews@herald.ie

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