Row over the role of SNA’s in Scoil Mochua in Clondalkin

by Padraig Conlon

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]A recent Labour Court recommendation may lead to discrimination against children with physical disabilities in local school, Scoil Mochua.

This is according to former local TD Robert Dowds who says he fears students in Scoil Mocha, a school for severely physically disabled children in Clondalkin, “will have their educational opportunities diminished” because of the decision.

Last month, the Labour Court recommended a group of 23 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) drop their objection to carrying out toileting duties for special needs pupils at the school and carry out the tasks.

Mr Dowds, who taught in Scoil Mochua for 11 years, explains why this ruling could be bad for students.

“The SNAs scheme in Scoil Mochua, which is managed by the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), traditionally operated under the direction of the teachers in their classrooms following the curriculum and each child’s individual education plan.

“Their duties included assisting in the classroom under the teachers’ direction, feeding at lunch times and assisting with toileting. These duties they have admirably performed over many years.

“The input of SNAs in this situation is vital. Where a minority of students is concerned, feeding requires hands-on assistance from SNAs either because of lack of capacity to feed themselves, or dangers such as risk of choking while being fed.

“Now the CRC want the SNAs to undertake nearly all of the toileting.

“In practice, this would mean SNAs are hardly ever in the classroom which would seriously undermine the students’ chances to avail of an education, some of them are also preparing for state exams.

“This is a recipe for chaos and is the situation which exists in the school already because recently appointed SNAs had to agree to management conditions to undertake all, or nearly all toileting in order to get their jobs.

“Because I worked in Scoil Mochua as a teacher from 2000 to 2011, I came to know the dedication and hard work of so many SNAs. It is a matter of huge regret to me that the current management of the CRC is fighting with admirable SNAs rather than working with them to make Scoil Mochua the happy, productive place of work it was when I worked there.”

In reply to Robert Dowds’s claims, the CRC told Dublin Gazette: “The CRC welcomes the decision of the Labour Court and has begun implementing the recommendations which are in the best interests of the pupils.

“The recommendations will not have a significant negative impact on the students. They will result in achieving best practice in line with every other special school in Ireland, as laid out by the Department of Education & Science and the National Council of Special Education.

“The principal of Scoil Mochua has met with the parent’s association and fully informed them of developments. Parents were also informed that if they had any questions or concerns that they could contact the principal directly. No such queries have been received.

“The normal management structure will apply to the management of SNAs in the school. SNAs are under the direction of the teacher in the classroom and ultimately responsible to the principal/board of management as employees.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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