May 22, 2013

Special Needs





Special Educational Needs


This Special Educational Needs policy outlines how Ardscoil na mBráithre will attempt to enable all students to belong to an educational community without prejudice and within which individual difference is celebrated. The legacy of Edmund Rice and by extension, the Gospel, challenges our school to be inclusive, to be especially mindful of the disadvantaged and of those with special needs. The school strives to create a secure, accepting, collaborating and stimulating community in which every student is encouraged to achieve to the highest degree possible, according to his potential.


Students have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty that calls for special educational provision made for them.

According to the ‘Education for Special Needs Act 2004’ the definition for special educational needs means ‘a restriction in the capacity of the person to participate in and benefit from education on account of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or learning disability, or any other condition which results in a person learning differently from a person without that condition’.

Aims and Objectives:

Our school is an inclusive school at which we aim:

  • To provide a whole school response to special educational needs within the overall ethos of the school
  • To identify any difficulty as early and as thoroughly as possible, thereby building and maintaining the student’s self esteem
  • To encourage parental co-operation and involvement and to keep parents/guardians informed of progress
  • To endeavour to give maximum equal opportunity for gaining access to the curriculum at the appropriate level of learning
  • To set achievable targets
  • To employ a variety of resources and teaching strategies to enable differentiation in the approach to the National Curriculum
  • To work in partnership with parents/guardians, students, the Special Educational      Needs Organiser (SENO) and other outside agencies.


Admission procedures are in accordance with the school’s Admission’s Policy and makes provision for all students, including students with disability and special educational needs, in accordance with the resources provided by the DES and otherwise available to it.

 Identification of Students with Special Educational Needs:

An assessment shall include an evaluation and statement of the nature and extent of the student’s disability and a statement of the services, which the student will need so as to be able to fully participate in and benefit from education and generally to develop his own potential. It may also include:

  • Screening      tests in literacy and numeracy for all incoming first year students
  • Diagnostic      tests to clarify and identify the exact area of difficulty, with parental      consent
  • Informal tests      – these can yield valuable information.

Definitive conclusions will not be drawn from these tests. They will, however, be used as part of a wider assessment involving:

a)     Information from primary schools – consultation with class teachers, learning support teachers and resource teachers in all primary feeder schools.

b)    Consultation with parents of students with Special Educational Needs.

c)     Consultation with students.

d)    Feedback from subject teachers.

e)     Consultation with outside agencies that are involved with students.

All procedures, test results and information received will be documented and filed.

In addition, all information in relation to a student’s specific educational needs will be brought to the attention of relevant staff.

 Role of Learning Support and Resource Teacher:

 The Learning Support and Resource Teacher assist the school in providing support for students with special educational needs arising from disability by:

  • Assessing and recording students needs and progress
  • Setting specific, time-related targets for each student
  • Direct teaching of the students, either in a separate room or within the mainstream class
  • Team-teaching
  • Advising class teachers in regard to adapting the curriculum, teaching strategies, suitable textbooks, use of Information Technology and a range of other related matters
  • Meeting and advising parents/guardians, when necessary, accompanied by the class teacher.
  • Meeting with relevant professionals, in the student’s interest, e.g. psychologists, speech therapists, visiting teachers, special school or special class teachers
  • Applying for resources
  • Applying for Special Arrangements for State Examinations
  • Referring and completing application forms for psychological assessments.

Role of the Class Teacher:

  • To identify students who are experiencing difficulty (refer to ‘definition’ section)
  • To differentiate within the classroom and to provide appropriate opportunities and resources
  • To monitor and record the progress of the student as an ongoing process.
  • To inform parents/guardians of areas of concern and to seek support from parents/guardians.

As new members of staff join the school they are advised about the special needs arrangements and their responsibility towards the implementation of the policy.


Role of the Parent/Guardian: 

The school will ensure that parents/guardians are notified and consulted if special educational needs provision is being considered for their son.

Partnership with parents/guardians plays a key role in enabling students, with special educational needs, to achieve their potential. The school recognises that parents/guardians hold key information and have knowledge and experience to contribute to the shared view of a student’s needs and the best ways of supporting them. All parents/guardians of students with special educational needs will be treated as partners and supported to play an active and valued role in their son’s education. Developing good relationships with parents/guardians is seen as crucial to success.

Parents/guardians can contact the SENO directly when necessary and are fully encouraged to do so.

Parents/guardians are encouraged to give their support at home whenever possible with the emphasis on raising self-esteem and building a positive attitude.


Role of Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO):

The SENO will be responsible for co-ordinating and facilitating delivery of educational services to children with disabilities at local level. In particular, the SENO will be a focal point of contact for parents/guardians and schools, and will process applications for resources for students with disabilities.

Their responsibilities may include:

  • Overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy
  • Co-ordinating provision for students with special educational needs
  • Liaising with and advising teachers
  • Managing learning support assistants
  • Overseeing records of all students with special educational needs
  • Liaising with parents/guardians of students with special educational needs
  • Contributing to the in-service training of staff
  • Liaising with external agencies including educational psychology services, health and social services and voluntary bodies.

Role of Special Needs Assistant (SNA):

In regard to Special Needs Assistant support, the school may proceed to make the necessary staffing adjustments on receipt of the decision from the SENO. Their role includes giving general assistance to the class teacher, under the direction of the Principal, with duties of a non-teaching nature. Duties shall be modified to support the particular needs of the student concerned.

*Individual Educational Plan (IEP):

This document serves two purposes – (a) educational and (b) accountability

An IEP will need to be prepared for every student receiving resource hours and it will be considered best practice to prepare an IEP for every student receiving learning support.

Content of an IEP:


  • The nature and degree of the student’s abilities, skills and talents.
  • The nature and degree of the student’s special educational needs and how these needs affect his educational development.
  • The present level of educational performance of the student.
  • The special education and related support services to be provided to the student to enable the student to effectively make the transition from primary school education to post-primary school education.
  • The goals, which the student will attempt to achieve over a period not exceeding 12 months.

*A copy of the IEP will be available upon request to the parent/guardian, the SENO and other appropriate persons pending national agreement by all the education partners on the issue of IEPs.

Parents/guardians may appeal against:

  • Any statement or description of their son’s special educational needs that they consider to be incorrect or inadequate to meet their son’s needs.
  • The failure of the school or health board to implement any part of the plan.

Curriculum and Integration:

All students are taught in mainstream classes alongside their peers with the majority of learning taking place in ordinary lessons incorporating differentiation.

Students who receive support are either taught within the class situation or are withdrawn for intensive support from the learning support/resource teachers, individually or in small groups.


Resources and Accommodation: 

The learning support/resource teachers have access to rooms where students can work individually or in small groups. Resources have been gathered to help target general areas of learning – literacy and numeracy, visual and auditory discrimination etc. There is also information available on dyslexia, dyspraxia, speaking and listening, ADHD, autism, social skills etc., as well as books, concrete and multi-sensory apparatus, games, CDs, cassettes and multimedia software (DVDs etc). Some items are kept as a specialist resource to provide a fresh start, or a new approach, but resources are generally for all staff to use if necessary.


Support services and links to outside agencies:

We have established links with the following agencies:

  • NCSE
  • SENO
  • School Psychologist
  • Health Board


The School Authorities are committed to complying with the following legislation and guidelines:

  • The Education Act 1998
  • The Education Welfare Act 2000
  • The Equal Status Act 2000
  • The Comhairle Act 2000
  • The Disabilities Bill 2004
  • The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004
  • The NCCA Draft Guidelines for Teachers of Students with Learning Disabilities 2002.


* IEPs will only be implemented within the High School pending national agreement by all the education partners.