Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (343)

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

343. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the restriction on recruitment of special needs assistants to those who have been in permanent positions or temporary positions for more than five years; if similar protections will be put in place for those who have been working in temporary positions for less than five years; if discretion will be afforded to schools for recruiting personnel with qualifications and experience relevant to the needs of their students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32033/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to that aspect of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 (the Haddington Road Agreement) that relates to supplementary assignment arrangements for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). The contractual position in respect of SNAs is outlined in their contract of employment (Department of Education and Skills Circulars 12/05 (Post-Primary) and 15/05 (Primary)). This outlines that the allocation of special needs assistant posts to schools will be reviewed on an annual basis. This review is conducted by the NCSE and the employment of Special Needs Assistants may be reduced from full-time to part-time or terminated by way of redundancy where the allocation is reduced. Details of redundancy arrangements are outlined in Department Circular 58/06. Under the Croke Park Agreement the Government gave a protection from compulsory redundancy to permanent public servants. However, this does not apply to SNAs because an existing exit mechanism i.e. DES Circular 58/06 was already in existence. This was allowed for in the Croke Park Agreement. Recently, a new set of proposals was put forward by the Labour Relations Commission which now form the Haddington Road Agreement. These arose from an intensive and difficult set of negotiations between the Public Services Committee of ICTU and the Government that took place against a backdrop of continuing significant difficulties in the finances of the State. The Government has agreed to implement the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement for grades represented by Unions which have signed up to the Haddington Road Agreement. As both Unions that represent SNAs namely, SIPTU and IMPACT, have signed up to the Haddington Road Agreement, the Department has implemented supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs for the 2013/2014 school year. The detailed arrangements are set out in Departmental Circular 0037/2013 which issued on 1 July 2013.