The responsibility for the recruitment and employment of individual special needs assistants is a matter for each school authority. The appointment procedures are outlined in Circular 03/03 — copy set out below. The current educational requirements specify that candidates for appointment to the post of special needs assistant must have been awarded Grade D (or pass) at least, in Irish, English and Mathematics in the Junior Certificate Examination, in the Day Vocational Certificate Examination or in an examination of equivalent standard. It is the responsibility of the relevant school authority to ensure that any proposed new appointee is vetted. The procedures for the vetting of teaching and non teaching staff are outlined in Circular 0094/2006 — copy also set out below.
To: The Management Authorities of all Primary Schools, The Management Authorities of Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools, The Chief Executive Officer of Each Vocational Education Committee
New arrangements for the vetting of teaching and non-teaching staff
The Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin, T.D. wishes to advise the authorities of all primary and post-primary schools and of Youthreach, VTOS, Junior Education or Traveller Training Centres of expanded arrangements for the vetting of persons with unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults arising from the recommendations of the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Garda Vetting.
1.2 Vetting procedures are already in place for special needs assistants and bus escorts. The procedures for the vetting of such staff are being revised and the new arrangements are set out below. In addition, vetting is being introduced for the 2006/07 school year for new teachers and any other new appointees who will have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults. It will be extended to others later on.
2. Vetting arrangements for the 2006/07 school year
2.1 The Department, in consultation with the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU), has decided that, as a first step in the expansion of the vetting services of the GCVU, the vetting of new teachers and ancillary staff to be employed in schools should be given priority. Vetting will apply initially to all new staff being recruited with effect from 1st September, 2006 or later.
2.2 New staff are defined as those referred to above who have not been employed in a recognised primary or post-primary school, in a Youthreach, VTOS, Junior Education or Traveller Training Centre, in this State at any time since 1st September, 2003. Where a person was employed in a school or centre listed above in the past, but not within the last three years, he/she must be vetted.
2.3 It is the responsibility of the relevant school authorities (Board of Management or Vocational Education Committee as appropriate) to ensure that any proposed new appointee, who has/may have unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults, is vetted. However, school authorities should ensure that vetting is only sought in respect of a person to whom it proposes to make an offer of employment. Applications should not be sought prior to a decision being taken to offer appointment. Applications need not be submitted in respect of newly qualified teachers who are dealt with in the process set out in Paragraph 3.1 below.
2.4 The appropriate application form, together with guidelines on its completion, will be issued directly on request to registered Authorised Signatories by the GCVU. The proposed employee must give his/her consent to his/her being vetted. A person, who refuses to provide his/her consent, may not be appointed in any capacity.
3. Application process
3.1 New Teachers
As part of the process of registering new teachers for the first time, the Teaching Council has agreed that it will submit vetting applications in respect of such teachers to the GCVU. It will then have regard to the outcome of this vetting in making its decision in relation to registration. This will obviate the need for schools to directly approach the GCVU in respect of vetting of such newly qualified teachers.
It is expected that formal registration of teachers will not take place before the commencement of the 2006/07 school year. However, the vetting process will have commenced in advance of that and the Teaching Council will issue a letter to individual teachers indicating the outcome of the vetting application in respect of them. Schools should ensure that they request a prospective employee to present for inspection the letter from the Councilbefore a decision to appoint is taken or a formal offer of appointment is made.
3.2 Non-Teaching Staff
In the case of non-teaching staff, the applications should be submitted by the Authorised Signatory (see Paragraph 4).
In the case of schools under Catholic patronage some Diocesan Offices have indicated that they will co-ordinate the submission of vetting requests from Authorised Signatories. Accordingly, those school authorities should contact the Central Office of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association and the relevant Diocesan Office in relation to the procedure to be followed with regard to the submission of applications for vetting
The Church of Ireland Board of Education, has agreed to co-ordinate vetting applications for the schools that it represents. Accordingly, all applications from those schools should be forwarded by the Authorised Signatory to the Board of Education, for onward transmission by its nominated official to the GCVU.
Otherwise Authorised Signatories should submit vetting applications to the GCVU. The current practice of submitting applications for vetting in respect of special needs assistants and bus escorts via the Department is being discontinued.
3.3 The address of the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) is:
Racecourse Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
4. Authorised signatories
4.1 Each Board of Management or VEC, as appropriate, must nominate one person as the Authorised Signatory. That person's signature will be required to authenticate an application from the school or VEC.
5. Timely submission of applications
5.1 In order to be in a position to definitively offer a prospective employee a post arising from 1st September, 2006 onwards, school authorities should ensure that the vetting process has been satisfactorily concluded in good time. If the process is not satisfactorily completed before 1st September, 2006, or the effective date of appointment if later than that, the offer of a post can only be made on a provisional basis. The prospective employee should be formally notified of this and should confirm acceptance of this condition. If, on receipt of the result of the vetting application, the school authorities consider that the person concerned is not suitable for appointment, the provisional appointment should be terminated.
6. Training of Boards of Management
6.1 The GCVU is anxious to ensure that the vetting system operates as efficiently and effectively as possible. In order to achieve this, the GCVU is organising training sessions for persons engaged in the operation of the system. Training is being given to persons nominated by the Management Bodies who in turn will organise the necessary training for the nominees of the schools and centres.
7. Issue of result of vetting application
7.1 In response to each application, the GCVU will issue a statement directly to the Teaching Council, the Church of Ireland Board of Education or the Authorised Signatory as appropriate setting out the result of the search for criminal convictions made against its records.All convictions will be disclosed as part of this process.
8. Queries in relation to vetting
8.1 Queries in relation to vetting should be raised with the relevant management authority in the first instance. In the case of schools represented by the CPSMA, queries should be raised with the Diocesan Office in the diocese concerned.
9. Decision based on outcome of application
9.1 It is a matter for the Board of Management to determine whether any conviction disclosed as a result of the vetting application would render a prospective employee unsuitable for employment by the school. It is for the Board to make a judgement as to the person's suitability.
9.2Vetting should not take the place of normal recruitment procedures, such as seeking and following up of references and ensuring that any unexplained gaps in employment are satisfactorily accounted for. Proper recruitment procedures are an essential element of child protection practice. Vetting is to be used as an addition to those procedures.
Because of the importance of child protection, school authorities should be conscious of their responsibilities in this regard when requested to furnish a reference in respect of a particular individual.
9.3 The fact that a person has a conviction does not automatically render him or her unsuitable for work with or access to children or vulnerable adults. A person's suitability should be looked at as a whole in the light of all the information available including the relevance of the nature of the offence in the context of child protection.
10. Dissemination of Circular
10.1 Please provide a copy of this circular to the appropriate representatives of parents and teachers for transmission to individual parents and teachers.
This circular may be accessed on the Department of Education and Science website at www.education.ie
Circular SNA 03/03
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
TO BOARDS OF MANAGEMENT, PRINCIPALS AND SPECIAL NEED ASSISTANTS IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Appointment Procedures for Special Need Assistants
(Updated August 2007)
1.1 The Minister for Education and Science wishes to inform management authorities that this Circular — SNA 03/03 has been updated in August, 2007 and now sets out revised appointment pro cedures for Special Need Assistants in primary schools.
1.2 Boards of Management, in accordance with the guidelines hereunder, are responsible for the appointment of Special Need Assistants in primary schools. Any such appointment is subject to the prior approval of the school's Patron.
1.3 A Special Need Assistant shall only be appointed to a post which is to be filled within the allocation of posts approved by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
2. Advertising a Special Need Assistant Post:
2.1 A Special Need Assistant post must be advertised in a local newspaper. The advertisement shall invite applications from eligible persons to be submitted by a specified date to the Chairperson of the Board of Management.
2.2 Subject to any exceptions permitted by the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 and 2004 the advertisement must not indicate an intention to discriminate or contain information in any form which might reasonably be understood as indicating an intention of this kind.
3. Details that must be included in the advertisement:
i. The name and address of the school.
ii. The date of commencement of the post.
iii. State if the post is full time or part time and the number of part time hours.
iv. A general description of the duties of the post.
v. The latest date for receipt of application.
vi. State that a curriculum vitae must be submitted with the application.
vii. State that references or the names and addresses of referees are required.
viii. State that a list of suitable applicants may be set up from which future vacancies may be filled (valid for the duration of the school-year).
4. Selection Board for Appointment of Special Need Assistants:
4.1 The Selection Board shall consist of the Chairperson of the Board of Management, the Principal of the school and one other person nominated by the Patron.
4.2 The Selection Board must include at least one male and one female.
4.3 If any member of the Selection Board, including the Chairperson, stands in a relationship to a person who is a candidate for employment in the school, s/he shall withdraw from the Selection Board and the Patron shall nominate another Chairperson or member in his/her place.
5. Functions of the Selection Board:
5.1 The Selection Board, prior to interviewing the candidates shall establish in writing the criteria for assessment of applications, having regard to appropriate legislation and the requirements of the post. Established criteria of the Board shall take account of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 and 2004 and the Code of Practice of the Equality Authority.
5.2 The Selection Board shall meet within a reasonable period after the closing date for receipt of applications to determine those applicants to be called for interview.
5.3 The Chairperson of the Selection Board shall keep a record of the criteria used.
6.1 While the Selection Board may decide to limit the number of applicants called for interview, a minimum of three eligible applicants must be called. If less than three applicants have applied for the post, all of the eligible applicants must be invited to interview.
6.2 The Selection Board must adhere to the agreed criteria for the assessment of applicants.
6.3 The Chairperson of the Selection Board must keep a record of the agreed criteria and of the scoring used to assess applications and interviews.
6.4 When interviewing applicants, particular caution must be taken to ensure that no questions, comments or statements might be construed as discriminatory e.g. on grounds of gender or marital status.
7. Appointing the Successful Candidate:
7.1 Schools are reminded that the minimum qualification necessary for appointment as a Special Need Assistant is an award of Grade D (or pass) in Irish, English and Mathematics in the Inte rmediate Certificate/Junior Certificate or the Day Vocational Certificate Examination or in an examination of equivalent standard.
7.2 Having interviewed such applicants as present themselves, the Selection Board shall submit a written report to the Board of Management, nominating
a) the applicant whom it considers most suitable for appointment and
b) a list of candidates in order of merit suitable for appointment to any further post arising in the school over the course of the school-year.
7.3 The Board of Management shall meet and appoint the candidate nominated by the Selection Board unless it has good and sufficient reason not to do so, in which instance the matter shall be ref erred to the Patron, whose decision in this matter shall be accepted by the Board.
7.4 The Board of Management shall also retain the list of candidates deemed suitable for appointment. This list will be effective for the duration of the school-year in question in respect of any appointment to posts of Special Need Assistants which may arise in the school.
7.5 If two or more Special Need Assistants commence duty on the same day, the Board of Management shall establish the order of seniority based on the order that the Special Need Assistants were listed as a result of the interview process i.e. the Special Need Assistant who was ranked highest following the interview process should be given the higher seniority rating. Please refer to Circular 0059/2006 — Seniority of Special Need Assistants which is available on the Department’s website at www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Special Need Assistants.
8. Medical Certification:
8.1 The Board shall obtain from the successful candidate, prior to appointment, a certificate of medical fitness that s/he is fit to undertake the duties of the post. A sample form is attached as Appendix A.
8.2 While the medical practitioner shall be nominated by the Board of Management, any costs incurred shall be borne by the successful candidate.
9.1 Before notifying the successful candidate the Board of Management shall check his/her references.
10.1 It is the responsibility of the Board of Management to ensure that any proposed new appointee as Special Need Assistant is vetted. However, school authorities shall ensure that vetting is only sought in respect of a person to whom it proposes to make an offer of employment. Applications should not be sought prior to a decision being taken to offer appointment.
10.2 Please refer toCircular 0094/2006 –‘New arrangements for the vetting of teaching and non-teaching staff’ which is available on the Department’s website at www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Special Need Assistants.
11. Contracts of Employment
11.1 New appointees must be offered a contract of employment in accordance with the terms outlined inCircular SNA 15/05 –‘Contract of Employment for Special Need Assistants’ which is available on the Department’s website www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Special Need Assistants.
12. Notification of the appointment to the Department of Education and Science:
12.1 On completion of the appointments procedure as outlined above, Boards of Management shall complete and submit the form "Notification of Appointment — Special Need Assistant", which is available on the Department's website www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Special Need Assistants, to
Non Teaching Staff (NTS) Payroll,
Department of Education and Science,
13.1 If you have any query in relation to this circular please e-mail your query to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 090 648 4136.
13.2 This circular should be retained for future reference in the school. It may also be accessed on the Department's website www.education.ie under Education Personnel/Special Need Assistants.
Certificate of fitness to commence employment as a Special Need Assistant
To be completed by a Medical Practitioner nominated by the Board of Management.
I certify that I have examined the above named and found that s/he is fit to undertake duties as a Special Needs Assistant.
Stamp or Seal