14 December, 2023 | Posted by Jenny Smith

What Are SNA Primary And Secondary Care Needs?

The role of a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) is an invaluable one that plays a crucial part in fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

SNAs work closely with students who require additional assistance due to various physical, intellectual, or developmental challenges.

In this article, we will delve into the primary and secondary care needs that SNAs address, showcasing the significance of their role in education.

The Department of Education outlines the role of an SNA in Circular 0030/2014 on the SNA Scheme.

It says the role of the SNA is to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs.

Such support is provided to facilitate their attendance at school and to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

The daily role of an SNA can involve assisting with primary care needs such as:

  • Assistance with feeding: where a child with special needs requires adult assistance.
  • Administration of medicine: where a child requires adult assistance to administer medicine.
  • Assistance with toileting and general hygiene: (including catheterisation) where a child with special needs cannot independently self-toilet.
  • Assistance with mobility and orientation: on an ongoing basis including assisting a child or children to access the school and the classroom, accessing school transport or helping a child to avoid hazards in or surrounding the school.
  • Assisting teachers to provide supervision in the class, playground and school grounds: at recreation, assembly, and dispersal times including assistance with arriving and departing from school for pupils with special needs.
  • Non-nursing care needs associated with specific medical conditions: such as frequent epileptic seizures or for pupils who have fragile health.
  • Care needs requiring frequent interventions including withdrawal of a pupil from a classroom when essential: This may be for safety or personal care reasons, or where a child may be required to leave the class for medical reasons or due to frequent distress.
  • Assistance with moving and lifting of children, and operation of hoists and equipment.
  • Assistance with severe communication difficulties including enabling curriculum access for pupils with physical disabilities or sensory needs and those with significant and identified social and emotional difficulties. Under the direction of the teacher, this might include assistance with assistive technology equipment, typing or handwriting, supporting transition, assisting with supervision at recreation, dispersal times etc.

There are also secondary care tasks that SNAs may perform including:

  • Preparation and tidying of workspaces and classrooms or assisting a child who is not physically able to perform such tasks to prepare and tidy a workspace, to present materials, to display work, or to transition from one lesson activity to another. To assist with the cleaning of materials.
  • Assistance with the development of Personal Pupil Plans for children with special educational needs, with a particular focus on developing a care plan to meet the care needs of the pupil concerned and the review of such plans.
  • Assist teachers and/or the Principal in maintaining a journal or care monitoring system for pupils including details of attendance and care needs.
  • Assist in the preparation of school files and materials relating to care and assistance required in class by students with special needs.
  • Planning for activities and classes where there may be additional care requirements associated with particular activities, liaising with class teachers and other teachers such as the resource teacher and school principal, attending meetings with parents, SENO, NEPS Psychologists, or school staff meetings with the agreement and guidance of class teacher/principal.
  • Assistance with enabling a pupil to access therapy or psycho-educational programmes such as anger management or social skills classes, under the direction of qualified personnel, including class teachers or support teachers.
  • Assistance to attend or participate in out-of-school activities: walks, or visits, where such assistance cannot be provided by teaching staff.

The role of an SNA is both challenging and rewarding, offering a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of students with diverse needs.

Aspiring SNAs can benefit from specialised training programs, workshops, and ongoing professional development opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge.

By choosing a career as an SNA, individuals contribute to creating a more inclusive and compassionate society.

The fulfilment that comes from supporting students in overcoming challenges and achieving their full potential is immeasurable.

In conclusion, the primary and secondary care needs met by SNAs highlight the multifaceted nature of their role in the educational landscape.

As we recognise the importance of fostering an inclusive learning environment, the role of SNAs becomes increasingly vital.

Choosing a career as a Special Needs Assistant is not just a profession; it is a commitment to creating a brighter future for those who need it most.

Interested in Becoming an SNA?

If you are interested in becoming an SNA, visit our SNA department for upcoming courses:

If you have any questions please book a consultation call with our admissions expert Jennifer Matteazzi, email jennifer.matteazzi@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 8920031.

Portobello Insider

Join our mailing list to receive the latest insights and exclusive content from your chosen department of interest