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Special Education Needs

Special Education Needs


St.Columba’s National School is a primary school under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It is a mainstream primary school, catering for a full cross section of children. The purpose of this SEN policy is to provide practical guidance for teachers, parents and other interested parties in the provision of effective learning support to pupils experiencing low achievement, high achievement and/or learning difficulties, as well as to fulfil our obligations under the Education Act 1998. Since June 2013, the learning support team must now also provide support to newcomer children to promote the pupil’s development of English language proficiency so that she can gain access to the curriculum, ultimately achieving the same educational opportunities as her English-speaking peers. The school currently (Sept. 2016 to August 2017) has the following provisions to cater for children with Special Education Needs: Two Learning Support Teachers plus 5 hours Learning Support and EAL under the GAM 27.5 hours of Resource Teaching time for a pupil with SEN 3 SNA’s –Infant Days plus 1 SNA for 16 hours per week The school from Sept. 2017 will have the following provisions to cater for children with Special Educational Needs: 85 teaching hours for Learning Support/Resource/Eal 2 SNA’s with full days plus 2 SNA’s with Infant days. The school from September 2018 will have the following provisions to cater for children with Special Educational Needs: 3 full time Learning Support teachers plus 10 hours 6 SNA’s (4 with full days and two with infant days) Implementation and Review The implementation of the additional changes in this Policy will commence in September 2018. The original policy was fully implemented by 2006. It was reviewed in 2008, again in 2010 and 2015. The last review was in 2016. This current review is the fifth one of this policy.


This policy is available on our school web site. All school policies are available in hard copy at the school office. It is available to school staff on the Teachers’ Server. The principal aim of Learning Support is to optimise the teaching and learning process so as to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy before leaving primary school.

Specific Objectives of Learning Support

Through the implementation of this policy we strive to: Facilitate pupils to participate in the full curriculum for their class level Develop positive self-esteem and positive attitudes to school and learning Enable pupils to monitor their own learning and become independent learners in line with their own ability Involve parents in supporting their children’s learning Promote collaboration among teachers.

Guiding principles

The school recognises that effective learning programmes are based on the following principles: Effective whole-school policies Whole school involvement Early Intervention Direction of resources towards pupils in greatest need. A Continuum of Support for meeting individual needs The needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) can best be considered in terms of a continuum and therefore support given is also on the basis of a continuum:

Classroom Support

This is the most common type of support and typically the first response to emerging needs. It is a response for pupils who have distinct or individual educational needs and who require approaches to learning and/or behaviour which are additional to or different from those required by other pupils in their class. Problem solving at this level typically begins when a parent or teacher has concerns about an individual pupil. The teacher and parents discuss the nature of the problem and consider strategies which may be effective. Classroom Support incorporates the simple, informal problem-solving approaches commonly used by class teachers to support emerging needs. A Classroom Support Checklist is included in this policy document (See Appendix 1 Learning Support Stage 1).

School Support

In some cases interventions at classroom support level are not enough to fully meet the pupils’ special educational needs. School Support may, therefore, be required.The class teacher needs to involve the learning support/resource teachers in the problem-solving process at this point and it involves more systematic gathering of information and the development and monitoring of a School Support Plan or an Individual Pupil Learning Profile (IPLP). School Support Plus If a pupils special educational needs are severe and/or persistent, they are likely to need intensive support. School Support Plus will generally involve personnel outside the school team in the problem solving, assessment and intervention process. However, the information from Classroom and School Support work will provide the starting point for problem-solving at this level. Classroom support and school support will continue to be an important element of his/her individual education plan.

Procedure of Identification and Referral

A. New pupils See school’s Enrolment Policy: In relation to applications for the enrolment of children with special needs, the Board of Management will request a copy of the child’s medical and/or psychological report or where such a report is not available, will request that the child be assessed immediately. The purpose of the assessment report is to assist the school in establishing the educational needs of the child relevant to his/her special needs and to provide the support services required. Following receipt of the report, the Board will assess how the school can meet the needs specified in the report. Where the Board deems that further resources are required, it will request the Department of Education and Skills, through the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) to provide the resources required to meet the needs of the child as outlined in the psychological and/or medical report. These resources may include for example, access to or the provision of any or a combination of the following: visiting teacher service, resource teacher for special needs, special needs assistant, specialised equipment or furniture, transport services or other. The school will meet with the parents of the child to discuss the child’s needs and the school’s suitability or capability in meeting those needs. Where necessary, a full case conference involving all parties will be held, which may include parents, principal, learning support teacher, special class teacher, resource teacher for special needs, special needs assistant (SNA) or psychologist, as appropriate.

B. Pupils already enrolled in school Procedures and criteria for Identifying and Selecting Pupils for Supplementary Teaching: Administration, scoring and interpretation of an appropriate standardised screening test by the Learning Support Teachers. In the case of very young pupils, appropriate checklists or profiles are available. See SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS: A Continuum of Support (NEPS) and BEHAVIOURAL, EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DIFFICULTIES: A Continuum of Support (NEPS)- both available from Principal or Learning Support teachers. Selection of pupils for diagnostic assessment by the Special Ed. team in consultation with the class teacher. In selecting for diagnostic assessment and supplementary teaching priority will be given to pupils who: achieve scores that are at or below the 12th percentile on nationally standardised tests of achievement in English reading; need early intervention in English; (EAL). See EAL Policy document. Early Intervention – Literacy Power Hour /Maths Power Hour achieve scores that are at or below the 12th percentile on nationally standardised tests of achievement in Maths; are high achievers When referring children for psychological or other assessments, the Principal will oversee initial contact with parents, will liaise with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or other privately-funded assessment services (Eirim or Dyslexia Association of Ireland), other outside agencies such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, visiting teacher of the deaf, and, where appropriate, make arrangements for additional educational provision for children with diagnosed special needs. Teaching and Learning Provisions, when Special Needs of a Pupil have been confirmed Administration of diagnostic tests by the learning-support/resource teacher to each selected pupil (subject to consent by the pupil’s parents/guardians) to identify the pupil’s learning strengths and needs. Determination of the nature of the intervention to be provided for the pupil, such as additional support from the class teacher and/or supplementary teaching from the learning-support team. Identification of learning targets and the development of an Individual Pupil Learning Profile (IPLP) for each pupil to whom supplementary teaching is to be provided, in consultation with the pupil’s class teacher, parents/guardians, SNAs where access is given, other support services (where appropriate) and where appropriate, with the pupil. Appropriate modification of teaching (differentiation) by the class teacher in the mainstream classroom. Provision of supplementary teaching by the learning support team in the classroom or the learning-support room for an instructional block of time. Assessment of the pupil’s progress Evaluation of learning programme Consultation between the learning-support team, class teacher and parents and decision with regard to the level of support now required by the pupil. If decision is made to discontinue supplementary teaching, there will be a continuation of appropriate support in mainstream class and at home. If decision is made to continue supplementary teaching, a programme will be planned for a further instructional block of time.

Communication Systems.

The operation of an effective communication system between all the parties involved in meeting the learning needs of the child is considered essential: To facilitate the following people Principal BOM Class Teacher Parent Outside agencies Class Teacher the following year to share information, the following formats may be used - memos, meetings, parent/teacher meetings, staff meetings, phone, fax and e-mails. Learning Support Teacher will compile the I.P.L.P (Individual Pupil Learning Profile) or I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan) following consultation with Principal Class Teacher Parents Other support services (where appropriate). Meetings (formal/informal) with the above, will take place when necessary, at the discretion of the Learning Support/Resource Teacher. Continuous communication between the Learning Support Team and the class teacher is considered essential. Regular communication between the Learning Support Team and the Parents/Guardians of the child is considered essential.

Record Keeping.

The results of assessments, standardized tests, psychological reports, I.P.L.P.s /I.E.P.s relevant reports from other support services will be kept and stored by the Learning Support Team. The Class Teacher, Learning Support Team are responsible for writing reports. Reports will be stored by the Principal/Learning Support Team. The Principal, Class Teacher, Learning Support Team and the child’s parents/guardians will have access to these reports. Teachers will record facts and observations, not feelings or intuition. Reports are stored securely (locked away) until the pupil reaches the age of 21 years.

Whole School Issues.

Through the implementation of this policy we hope to Help pupils to participate in the full curriculum within their own ability. Develop positive self-esteem and positive attitudes towards school and learning. Involve parents in supporting their children's learning. Promote collaboration among teachers and collaboration among teachers and outside agencies. Timetabling. The provision of Learning Support is in addition to the normal class teaching of Reading/Maths. If possible, the children attending should not miss the same curriculum areas constantly. The provision of Support can be through withdrawal or in-class tuition where deemed appropriate by all concerned. Resources. Resources for Learning Support/Resource Teachers will be used mainly in the Learning Support/Resource Teacher's rooms. Where deemed appropriate by all the Teachers involved, these Resources will be made available for use in the mainstream classroom.

Roles and Responsibilities

Principal: To co-ordinate Learning Support and Special Needs services at a macro level

Learning Support Team:

To co-ordinate Learning Support and Special Needs at a micro level

To administer standardised tests

To keep records of all standardised tests administered throughout the school. Conduct diagnostic assessment

To provide supplementary teaching

Maintain and review pupil records

Collaborate with others (see section 3).

Class Teacher:

Responsible for the child's learning needs.


To support their child's learning.

Board of Management

to oversee implementation and review of the Learning Support Policy. to oversee provision of adequate resources.

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