Special Educational Needs Policy

Introductory Statement

This policy statement arises from a review of a previous special needs policy (2006).

Deputy Principal, Class Teacher Reps and Special Education Teacher Reps were involved in initial drafting. A draft policy was presented to the whole school staff and submissions sought. The Principal discussed the draft policy with the Parents Association and sought their views on the policy. Following these consultations this final draft was prepared by the Principal and presented to the BOM for ratification at their meeting in __________. This policy was revised in 2013 to take account of changes made by DES and NCSE and in light of changing practices in school and other developments.

Rationale and Scope

A Review of our Special Educational Needs Policy is required at this time:

· To cater for the enrolment and education of pupils with special education needs in the mainstream setting

· To give effect to the aspirations set out in the school mission statement and the school aims

· To comply with recent legislation and department circulars in this area

· To streamline the provision of special needs support in the school

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 defines a special educational need as

“ a restriction in capacity to participate in and benefit from education due to an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or learning disability, or any other condition”

Learning Support Guidelines 2000, p. 1 refers to pupils whose achievement is at a very low level and who are at risk of not reaching adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy before leaving primary school.

Scoil Ghobnatan, as a school community has a commitment to the principles of inclusion. This commitment has been demonstrated with the provision of support educational facilities for all children with special educational needs. The establishment of a Language Class for children with a specific language difficulty in _____ addressed this particular need. In recent years the school has adapted to the changes in the provision of resource teaching for special needs pupils in mainstream classes and has seen a steady increase in the number of Special Needs Assistants employed in the school. The school has also adopted an inclusive approach to the needs of “newcomer” children who are learning English as a second language.

This policy includes mainstream pupils in the following categories; Learning Support, High/Low Incidence Resource and EAL. Staffing in the areas of Learning Support, High Incidence Resource and EAL is now allocated under the General Allocation Model/English Additional Language (GAM/EAL) model.

Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school

Making the best provision possible for pupils with special educational needs is in keeping with the Christian ethos of this Catholic Primary School which aims to ensure that each child develops their God-given talents and abilities to the full and which upholds the values of love, justice, truth and charity. We are committed to an inclusive education for all pupils, we are conscious that each pupil enriches our school in his/her own individual way.


To enable pupils of all abilities to avail of and benefit from an appropriate education.

To outline our whole school approach to teaching/learning in relation to pupils with special educational needs and to improve the quality of teaching and learning for all pupils with special educational needs.

To set out procedures for the enrolment of children with special needs in Scoil Ghobnatan and to assist parents in making an informed decision in relation to their child.

To outline procedures and practices to be followed in relation to supporting the learning of pupils with special educational needs.

To establish communication structures for the involvement of all the partners in the education of pupils with special educational needs. (L.S. Guidelines)

To enable the school community to make appropriate provision for all pupils of the school.

Policy Guidelines

These guidelines are laid out as follows:

1.0 Enrolment of children with identified special educational needs

2.0 Provision for children with emerging special educational needs. (The Staged Approach)

2.1 Stage 1: Procedures for the early identification, screening and addressing of the special educational needs of certain children.

2.2 Stage 2. Referral to Special Educational Needs Teacher

2.3 Stage 3. Consultation or referral for assessment to outside specialist

3.0 Drafting and Implementing an Education Plan

4.0 Inclusion

5.0 Deployment of staff

6.0 Collaboration and communication

7.0 Resources

8.0 Transfer to post primary school or to another primary school

9.0 Record Keeping

10.0 Other related policies – e.g. Code of behaviour, Anti-bullying, Assessment,


1.0 Enrolment of children with identified special educational needs in mainstream classes (Please refer to School Admissions Policy for definitive and detailed policy on all aspects of enrolment and admissions to Scoil Ghobnatan)

The BOM will consider the following legislative provisions in coming to a decision re enrolment of a special needs pupil.

(1) EPSEN Act “A child with special educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs unless the nature or degree of those needs of the child is such that to do so would be inconsistent with –

a) The best interests of the child as determined in accordance with any assessment carried out under this Act, or

b) The effective provision of education for children with whom the child is to be educated”

(2) Education Act 1998: 15.-(2) d. A board shall…. publish… the policy of the school concerning admission to and participation in the school, including the policy of the school relating to ….the participation by students with disabilities or who have other special educational needs, and ensure that as regards that policy, principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents’ choice are respected ….

To meet its obligations under the above Acts the school will, prior to the child’s enrolment, acquaint itself with the child’s special needs and determine whether these needs can be met having regard to the existing facilities in the school and any additional facilities that have been sanctioned for the particular pupil. The following steps may need to be taken.

– Meeting between parents/ principal/class teacher/special needs staff and SENO, as appropriate

– Obtaining copies/details of reports, assessments etc. from SENO, parents, …

– Contact with Special Educational Needs Organiser, NEPS Psychologist or other psychologist/speech therapist/ occupational therapist, referral from other Agency.

The level of support the pupil should receive will be determined in light of current DES regulations (Circular 02/05 and subsequent DES/NCSE circulars) and be informed by relevant professional reports and, if appropriate, the decisions made on these by the SENO acting for the NCSE.

The school will endeavour to ensure a smooth transition for both the pupil and the school through:

– Parental visits to school

– Pupil visits to school

– Staff visits to previous school/special schools/special units

– Making all school employees aware of the need for inclusion under the EPSEN Act.

– Liaison with SENO to arrange for additional personnel, resources, training

Any health and safety issues arising from the child’s mobility and care needs will be identified and strategies developed to address them prior to enrolment. e.g. access, toilets, supervision, administration of medicine, intimate care, course for SNA e.g. lifting techniques

2.0 Children with emerging special educational needs. (The Staged Approach) (See Circular 02/05)

2.1 Stage 1: Procedures for the early identification of enrolled pupils who may have special educational needs or learning difficulties.

The academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development of pupils will be monitored through teacher observation, parental observations, use of simple teacher designed checklists.

Concerns regarding a pupil’s progress are noted by class teacher using observation, teacher designed check list and/or test copy and appropriate interventions are put in place.

The screening measures that are generally used in the school include the MIST Screening Test, and the standardised reading and maths tests (Drumcondra Reading and SIGMA-T Maths). Other tests for individual pupils may be administered in consultation with the relevant support teacher or the Deputy Principal. These include measures to determine levels of general ability and measures to determine academic performance.

Where particular concerns arise parents/guardians are contacted with a view to exchanging relevant information and agreeing on a plan of action which may include classroom adjustments and adaptations to teaching and learning, parental input in the home, and referral to outside agencies such as GP, medical clinic, family services etc.

If necessary the class teachers at Stage 1 can seek advice from senior management in the school or from other support teachers.

If initial in-class interventions do not bring sufficient improvement the child may be moved onto Stage 2 following consultation with parents, principal, SEN teacher(s) as well as the class teacher, subject to the child meeting any requirements set out under the Learning Support Guidelines of the DES. (See Appendix 1 below)

If concerns seem to warrant the provision of support at Stage 3 the school will endeavour to provide for appropriate educational assessment under the NEPS scheme and/or other assessments such as Speech and language and Occupational Therapy and advise the parents accordingly.

2.2 Stage 2. Referral to Special Educational Support Teacher

Supplementary teaching will be provided following assessment results, teacher recommendation, parents’ concerns, and in the light of the availability of resources.

Parental consent is given for screening and diagnostic testing if required at the beginning of each school year.

Early contact with parents to explain how learning support can address their child’s learning needs will be made. A standard consent form is used but individual meetings with parents will be arranged whenever possible. Acceptance or refusal of service will be recorded. In the case of refusal further consultation will be sought to clarify any difficulties or concerns.

Supplementary teaching is provided by a team of teachers employed under the following headings: GAM/EAL, Resource Teaching, EAL specific allocation, Special Class Teacher .

Over the years various time-tabling arrangements have been used with the aims of maximising support for individual pupils and minimising disruption to classroom teachers. Decisions regarding the overall arrangements are made by the principal and deputy principal in consultation with support teaching team on an annual basis taking into account how well previous arrangements have succeeded.

In the junior classes there will be a focus on in class intervention in the area of literacy using the Literacy Lift Off model of support with staff and parents working in collaboration.

Criteria for the selection for Learning Support-when the class teachers have scored the standardised tests in the month of May/ June learning support will be offered to pupils who have scored at or under the 10th percentile ( as per Learning Support Guidelines)in Maths / Reading in the following school year . Should staffing allow, support teaching will be given to pupils who have scored above this but who are deemed to be in need of some support. This may take the form of continuous learning support teaching, in-class support or a block of learning support sessions.

Preparation of a Group Learning Plan/IEP.

– In general it will be the support teacher who will prepare a child’s IEP/Group Plan in consultation with parents, class teacher and SNA.

– The Plan may be individual or group depending on the nature and severity of the difficulties. Pupils at Stage 3 who have been diagnosed with Special Educational Needs will generally have an individual plan.

Pupil progress will be reviewed by means of ongoing observations, informal testing and formal standardised testing carried out by support teachers or classroom teachers.

If it is felt that a reduction or discontinuation of supplementary teaching is warranted based on reviews of progress the Principal will be notified and the parents will be contacted with a view to discussing the situation.

Where there are continuing concerns about a pupil’s progress following interventions at Stage 1 and 2 the Deputy Principal/Principal should be informed. The classroom teacher/support teacher will document progress to date and outline concerns that may warrant referral to an outside specialist.

2.3 Stage 3. Consultation or referral for assessment to outside specialist

A decision to request an assessment by an outside specialist will only be made following consultation with the parent/s or legal guardians.

Procedure for referring a pupil for assessment: Referral to Psychology Service NEPS by Principal/Deputy Principal Referral to private psychologist by parents or Principal Referral to Early Intervention or Assessment of Need by HSE Application to SENO by Principal/Deputy Principal Referral to paediatrician, child psychiatry by GP or NEPS Referral to speech and language therapist by parents or by school Referral to occupational therapist by Principal/Deputy Principal Referral to audiologist etc by Public Health Nurse

Documentation required will be completed by the pupil’s teachers and will be submitted to the Principal.

In the event of limited availability of assessments through NEPS the Principal, following consultation with all concerned will decide on priority cases. Severity of need will be a prime consideration, as will such factors as securing future school placement and securing additional educational and/or care supports.

Where parents have had assessments carried out privately, the recommendations of such assessments will be considered by the school having regard to the criteria and guidelines set out by the NCSE from time to time and the available resources within the school. The school reserves the right to make resources available to those pupils who clearly need additional supports but who have not yet been able to avail of an outside assessment.

3.0 Drafting and implementing an Individual Education Plan (for pupils at Stage 3)

The educational purpose of an IEP is to “provide evidence of the agreed special educational interventions and other supports to be provided for the child, together with recording parent, student and teacher professional views. An IEP also records the strategies that need to be used to enable a child to progress in the educational system”. (NCSE Guidelines May 2006, page vi)

Information included in an IEP will include:

· Learning strengths: based on teacher observation, parent observations, SNA observation …

· Learning needs: based on psychological report, teacher input, parental input, pupil input…

· Priority Targets for the pupil for a specified period of time

· Strategies to be used to achieve targets

· Biographical details and details of assessments carried out.

An agreed format is available for use throughout the school. However IEPs may vary in presentation and content depending on the particular needs of the child. The agreed default format is available in the school.

An IEP may cover a time period of up to one year. Some IEPs may be set for shorter periods such as half yearly. Progress will be reviewed in relation to the IEP targets on an ongoing basis according to a schedule set out and agreed in the IEP/

IEP Meetings:

· The co-ordination of the IEP will generally be the responsibility of the teacher most involved with meeting the special needs of the child.( class teacher/ support teacher)

· Participants in the preparation of education plans will involve parents and teachers. SNAs, and outside specialists may also be invited to participate.

· Participation will be facilitated by arranging for meeting to take place between teaching staff, parents and others. The school will facilitate timetabling arrangements that will facilitate teachers in attending IEP meeting.

· A meeting to plan for the IEP will be held with relevant staff and parents in Sept./ Oct. of the school year and will be reviewed at Parent/ Teacher meetings and at further review meetings as required.

· The parents will be required to call to the school to sign the IEP when it has been prepared following the consultation meeting.

· The pupil, depending on circumstances, may be included in the process.

· All school staff involved with the pupil have access to a copy of the plan and the plan will be available on request to the parents and if required to relevant agencies such as NEPS and NCSE.

If the education plan identifies resources over and above those normally available in a mainstream school setting, the Principal will bring this to the attention of the SENO and/or the NCSE.

The Principal and where appropriate the support staff will be responsible for on-going consultations with psychologists, SENO, and other professionals unless other arrangements have been agreed.

The co-ordination of education plans from class to class and the sharing of relevant information between staff, school and parents will be undertaken by the teacher co-ordinating the IEP. This process will be facilitated by teacher/teacher meetings and through parent/teacher meetings.

4.0 Inclusion

Many practical steps are in place to ensure that pupils with special educational needs are included as fully as possible in the life of the school and the classroom. Pupils with special needs participate actively in all school activities, assemblies, and special occasions. Pupils from the special class integrate with mainstream classes for occasions such as lunch, play-time and specific curricular areas.

Strategies to inculcate in students an awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities used in the school include lessons in RE, SPHE, and specific initiatives such as visiting groups.

5. 0 Deployment of Staff

The school ensures the most effective deployment of staff in meeting the overall SEN requirements of the school by taking into account the experience/expertise of teachers and SNAs and by closely examining the particular learning needs (LS, Resource, etc) from year to year. The Principal, following consultation with staff, allocates teaching and care resources.

SNAs play a vital role in supporting pupils with special needs in the school.

6.0 Collaboration and Communication

Collaboration between all those involved in the child’s education is essential. (Principal, parents, class teacher, support teachers, SENO, psychologist, health board personnel, and the visiting teacher service) The Principal and Deputy Principal have a particular role in liaising with outside groups and with organising in-school communication and collaboration.

It is sometimes necessary to make specific arrangements for formal consultations, although most of this work is carried out informally through incidental meetings and visits.

Meetings are facilitated between mainstream and support staff when neccessary.

Arrangements made under the Croke Park Agreement will further facilitate collaboration and communication.

7.0 Resources

Individual teachers are grant aided to purchase additional resources suitable for their own case loads.

All purchases are receipted and receipts are collected and stored.

All teachers have access to these resources and where practicable resources can be shared.

8.0 Transfer to post-primary

If necessary pupils who require additional support around transition will benefit from cooperation between primary and secondary support staff to enable a smooth transfer to post primary education. A representative from each of the Mallow Post-Primary Schools may visit Scoil Ghobnatan each year to facilitate such transitions. Contact is also made with special schools and visits of staff and pupils arranged as required.

The SENO is informed of all pupils with special needs who are due to transfer.

Educational reports are transferred directly to the receiving Post-Primary Schools. Parental consent is given as part of the Post-Primary Application process.

9.0 Record Keeping

The following records are maintained on children with SEN. The Deputy Principal retains copies of all psychological and other professional reports as well as copies of all applications for resource teaching hours, SNA support and Assistive Technology. Individual support teachers will compile their own records of on-going work and progress and pass these on when teacher allocations are made for a new school year. Some children may require an IEP. See Section 3 above.

Access to these records may be made available to the following parties: (Class teacher, resource teacher, SENO, psychologist, inspector, parents, special needs assistant, health workers, etc.) Note: Bearing in mind the child’s entitlement to confidentiality, access may be on a more restricted basis.

Records of a confidential nature including professional reports are securely stored but are available on request to those entitled to see them.

When a pupil who qualifies for resource teaching leaves the school having completed 6th class all files relating to the special education of that pupil will be stored securely with the class reports of that particular year.

10.0 Other Related Policies

The Code of Behaviour/Anti Bullying Policy in place in the school is positively framed and designed so that it can be implemented with all pupils in the school. It stresses good relationships, working together, celebrating our successes and learning from our mistakes in an atmosphere where we all take responsibility for our actions and have pride in our school. Individual behaviour plans are formulated where necessary but they fit into the overall framework outlined in the Code of Behaviour.

The school’s curricular and organisational policies and plans take into account the needs of pupils with SEN. e.g. differentiation of content and methodologies in curriculum areas

Policy Statements on the following topics:

Specific Speech and Language Impairment Class

Assessment Policy

Enrolment Policy

Success Criteria

Some practical indicators of the success of this policy include:

Inclusion of pupils with special needs into our school

Progress of pupils with special needs in our school as seen in academic assessments and social and emotional development.

Parental feedback, including feedback as part of the IEP process.

Feedback from teaching staff, special needs assistant, pupils, psychologists

Inspector’s Reports

Roles and Responsibility

People who have particular responsibilities for aspects of the policy include



Psychologist and other outside professionals

Care staff

Teaching staff

Board of Management

In-school Management Team

The Deputy Principal has responsibility for drawing up the plan in consultation with others and with updating the plan as required.

Progress will only be made when everyone plays their part to the full and offers help and assistance to others involved.

Implementation Date

This policy will apply immediately on ratification by the BOM. The monitoring of its implementation will be overseen by the Principal and Deputy Principal.

Timetable for Review

The operation of the new policy will be reviewed after a period of no more than three years from date of ratification or subsequent review. Any legislative or administrative changes will be incorporated into the plan as soon as is practicable.

Ratification & Communication

The BOM had ratified this policy and all subsequent revisions up to current revision 2013.