- Mission Statement
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine will provide for the education of students with special educational needs in accordance with the EPSEN Act 2004. This instruction of students shall be done, whenever possible, in an inclusive environment with those who do not have special needs. The students have the same right to benefit from appropriate education as with their peers and will leave school with the skills necessary to participate, to the level of their capacity, in an inclusive way in social and economic activities of society and to live independent and fulfilled lives.
- Operating Context
The policy will operate within the context of:
- The Education for persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004
- Available Funding and resources of the school.
- The rights of the Patron as set out in the Education Act.
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine supports the principles of:
- Equity of access and participation in the school.
- A collaboration of school and parents in relation to enrolment.
- Respect for diversity of traditions, values, beliefs, languages, and ways of life in society.
- School Details and Organisation
Type of School
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine is a community School run by a Board of Management. The board is established by the Deeds of Trust. The Board of management is nominated or elected every three years and is composed of nominees as follows; 3 religious, 2 members of the teaching staff, 2 parents and 3 ETB nominees. There is a parents association which enables parents to be informed on educational developments, to voice opinions on issues that concern them and to liaise closely with the Principal and the BOM on matters relating to the educational welfare of students. The Student Council is provided for under the Educational Welfare Act of 1988 to “Promote the interests of the school and involvement of students in the affairs of the school in co-operation with the board, parents and teachers”. There is also a Staff Advisory Committee to help identify good practices that would assist school management with communication (Both internally and externally) with the school and advice on school organisation and curricular matters.
Day to Day Organisation
The school has a teaching staff of 40 (approx.), 2 clerical officers, 1 librarian, 2 care takers and 2 cleaners. We have an SNA since 2003. The numbers of SNA’s will fluctuate depending on the students enrolled and their assessed needs. The Principal and Deputy Principal are responsible for the day to day running of the school. The management team comprises a number of assistant principals and special duties teachers. A year head system operates within the school and each class has a Tutor. A school mentoring system also operates and is an essential part of catering for the emotional needs of all students but particularly our SEN students. It is again a means by which we reinforce our ethos of inclusivity and integration. The school provides curriculum in accordance with the Department of Education for the following programmes;
- Junior Certificate,
- Transition Year,
- Leaving Certificate and
- Leaving Certificate Applied.
Resources for Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs
The resources and hours provided for the students with Special Needs are decided by the area Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO). The school has 3 qualified learning Support Teachers who divide their teaching time between regular classes and learning support classes, either as small groups or one to one instruction. We currently have 4 Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s). These are an invaluable pillar of our provision of Special Education Needs (SEN) and Learning Support (LS). We have an Autism Unit (ASD). We refer to this facility as The Home Room. One of our three Learning Support Teachers is attached to this unit. It is an inclusive and welcoming space that facilitates and promotes the social, educational and emotional well-being and development of the named students attached to it and the SEN and GA students that help with developing that inclusive and social element that is so pivotal to its success. Special needs students attend regular classes and are allocated hours in small class groups or individually based on identified specific needs as recommended by the SENO, Principal, NEPS psychologist and Learning Support teachers.
All extra-curricular activities are open to all. Students with Special needs are actively encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities.
- Policy Documents
- Early Identification
In the interests of preparing for the particular needs of our special needs students we visit the local primary schools in our area in February each year. Allowing us an opportunity to meet the students in question and to learn first-hand from their primary teachers about their needs and the best approaches and methodologies to employ in catering for their needs.
At this point we seek copies of all relevant reports and documents that will facilitate as smooth a transition as possible. It is also necessary to have this information in order to apply to our SENO for the requisite hours that these students should be eligible for.
We also meet with all of the parents, of our new First Year students in the Spring Term. This coincides with an open night and affords the parents an opportunity to become physically familiar with the school and to ask any questions that they have or broach any issues they feel need to be dealt with. At this point we can outline the services we provide and get a much clearer view of the students’ needs and parent’s expectations.
We follow this with a Saturday morning when we have all of these new first years in to carry-out group assessment tests. Since 2014 we have been using the CAT 4 Paper Test. The information gleaned from these individual profiles is very helpful in planning and preparing both for the identified SEN students’ needs but also for the needs of the over-all student body. Each student’s strengths and weaknesses and learning styles are highlighted in these reports. * These are available on the T Drive and are also in print in the L Support File.
To facilitate as smooth and seamless a transfer as possible from primary to secondary for each pupil, we incorporate the information gathered from our visits to the schools, the open night, parents evening, CAT 4 assessments along with the facilitation of individual tours of the school and taster sessions for some students who may feel particularly apprehensive and anxious around the move. We also have Transition Meetings with Parents, NEPS psychologist, KIDS personnel, and primary school resource and class teachers and any other relevant party. Depending on the particular requirements of the student we liaise with the relevant agencies/health boards or interested parties in compiling as full an educational needs picture as possible.
- Selection of Students For Special Education
Students receive Learning Support and or resource hours on the following basis; our students who would be categorised as SEN students fall under two main headings; high incidence and low incidence. Those with a high incidence assessed condition are catered for in Learning Support and primarily under our GA (General Allocation of hours). The less common low incidence assessments are catered for under RTH (Resource Hours). These students are all part of the main stream and experience full class participation in many subject areas while availing of LS or RTH when it is necessary and according to allocations of hours in the Home Room. At one time or another, our student body has included students with the following assessed learning difficulties;
- Borderline/Mild General Learning Disability (GLD)
- Emotional/Behavioural Difficulties –ADD/ADHD
- Specific Learning Difficulty – e.g. Dyslexia
- Sensory difficulties (hearing and visual impairments)
- Physical difficulties – e.g. Dyspraxia
- Moderate General Learning Disability
- Assessed Syndromes (Downs Syndrome)
- Autism/Autistic Spectrum Disorder (e.g. Aspergers)
- ESL Students
For students who have not been formally assessed prior to entry into second level and who present with difficulties in our in-house general assessment tests, or consistently show poor attainment in homework or school tests- applications to have them assessed by our NEPS psychologist will be made and on foot of a diagnosis that indicates extra hours could be gained we will apply for same immediately. Any observations by subject teachers, year heads or class tutors will help in forming a clearer picture of the students’ needs. All submissions to the SENO will be made by the Learning Support Co-ordinator in consultation with the Principal.
The level of intervention and duration of same is dependent on the type and degree of difficulty experienced by the pupil.
For students with physical/sensory difficulties the interventions generally will last for all of their time in school.The level of intervention may well increase if their condition deteriorates and decrease should their condition show an improvement.
We arrange In-house Reasonable Accommodations for our own exams at Christmas, summer and Mid Term etc. We also apply where appropriate for Reasonable Accommodations in Certificate Examinations (RACE) as indicated by NEPS reports, Counsellors reports and on the judgement of the subject and learning support teachers.
Students with a GLD will when possible and when our allocation allows be placed in smaller classes for English and Maths. This is to ensure they are afforded the opportunity to follow the course at a pace that is most appropriate to them.
SNA hours are applied for through our SENO for pupils that who have significant organisational, behavioural and concentration difficulties. These hours will remain in place for as long as the student requires them and the department sanctions them.
Students who have been formally assessed should have those assessments reviewed every three years if at all possible. Adjustments as a result of these reviewed assessments will be factored into our allocations.
- Communication of learning needs is facilitated in the following ways;
At the beginning of each academic year teachers are briefed on the new entrants and their assessed difficulties and the approaches to take with them. The CAT 4 results are also gone through and each student in the full year group has a report sheet indicating their strengths and weaknesses and the learning style they have. This full report folder is available on the T-Drive, available to all teachers.
Teachers are also circulated with a list of all students in LS and RTH by email and a briefing note to remind teachers of these supported students is sent via email prior to each parent teacher meeting.
Subject Teachers and LS teachers and SNA’s will liaise to discuss the students’ areas of difficulty and the areas that require focus and input. Parents concerns and observations on their child’s progress are communicated to the SEN co-ordinator who in turn will speak with the teachers involved.
Subject teachers will also inform the SEN co-ordinator of students that have not been identified as having a learning need heretofore and if further assessments or tests are required they will be pursued.
Subject teachers are also instrumental in identifying those who will require RACE accommodations and for the collection of material for the relevant applications.
- Involvement of Parents
The involvement of parents in the education of all students is critical and even more so where SEN students are concerned. We facilitate communication with parents in the following ways;
- Parent Teacher Meetings
- Notes in the student journal.
- Homework marking and comments.
- Test Results
- Phone Calls and Emails.
- Case Conferences.
- Transition Meetings from primary to secondary, Junior to Senior Cycle and to third level.
- Review meetings at the beginning and end of school years and even terms as per request either by the school or by parents.
- Involvement of Students
The students’ own views and concerns are taken into account when organising their learning support. It is essential that there exists a positive rapport between the students and their learning support teachers and SNA’s. It is vital that students are able to access LS in a positive frame of mind. To that end we try to ensure that they are not withdrawn from subjects that they wish to pursue. It can be difficult to follow this in every instance as not all LS or SEN students are eligible for language exemptions. In those circumstances we attempt to withdraw from non-exam subjects.
All material relating to students e.g. NEPS reports and CAT reports are explained to the students in detail should they require it. We also place students’ wishes to the fore when it comes to RACE both for state exams and In- House Exams.
- Role of the Special Needs co-ordinator:
The SEN co-ordinator is responsible for the overall co-ordination of Resource/Learning Support within the school. The SEN co-ordinator duties are as follows:
- Assists with arrangements for the successful transfer of students from their primary school to Secondary School and in gathering information about students, including those with special educational needs, before this transfer.
- Co-ordinates SEN provision in the school
- Liaises with parents/guardians of SEN students and prospective students
- Liaises with NEPS psychologists regarding assessment of priority students
- Communicates with relevant staff regarding essential information regarding SEN students
- Facilitates and chairs SEN department meetings
- Provides updates and details of all matters SEN to the School Authorities
- Liaises with the SENO in relation to all matters SEN including; assessment reports, learning support/resource provision, SNA access and applications to the NCSE
- Maintains and updates SEN files
- Administers and maintains records of assessment tests carried out throughout the school year
- Makes application for Reasonable Accommodation to the SEC
- Processes Exemptions from Irish
- Liaises with the School Authorities regarding timetabling
- Strives to develop a climate of confidentiality regarding the sensitive information of all the partners involved in SEN
- Liaises with school management regarding specific and whole school professional development.
- Role of the Teacher
The class teacher has a key role in bringing about the successful inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream classes. The class teacher has primary responsibility for the educational progress of all students in his/her class. It is particularly important that all class teachers create a classroom environment that accommodates and takes account of learning and physical difficulties. Whether students are taught in mixed ability or streamed classes it is expected that teachers will implement differentiated approaches for teaching, learning and assessment to ensure that the skills of all students including SEN students are catered for.
Class teachers will make themselves aware of the special educational needs of students in their classes. CAT 4 results with a mini profile of all pupils with a psychological assessment is made available to all teachers at the first staff meeting of the new school year and is available through the co-ordinator on request and on the T Drive. Teachers take steps to inform themselves of the special needs of any student in their classes and to bring any concerns regarding such a student to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.
The class teacher also plays an important role in the early identification of students with SEN. The class teacher is alert to the possibility of general and specific learning difficulties and brings their concerns to the attention of the SEN team. A key element of successful SEN provision is a high level of consultation and co-operation between the class teacher and the SEN team. A class teacher or Year Head can refer any student they are concerned about to the SEN Co-ordinator, who will begin a broader profile. This first step in the screening process allows the SEN team to identify the nature of SEN being experienced. It is during this time that the learning, emotional, behavioural and social needs of the student are evaluated. The co-ordinator will gather all the relevant information and after consultation with school management, the parents and the pupil may apply to the NCSE for support.
The academic progress of students throughout the school rests in the first instance with the mainstream class teacher. In order to ensure that as a school we meet the needs of all our special educational needs students, all teachers are encouraged to:
- Be aware of the School’s policy and procedures for dealing with students with special educational needs.
- Seek advice from the SEN Co-ordinator regarding students with special educational needs.
- Take responsibility for their own continuous professional development particularly with regard to common difficulties e.g. Dyslexia.
- Develop an attitude of ownership to the education of students in their classes with Special Educational Needs.
- Where a student has an SNA the subject teacher should plan how to most effectively engage the SNA in consultation with the SEN Co-ordinator.
- Support/encourage independence in the student. This is particularly important for Senior Cycle students
- Role of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA)
The Special Needs Assistant provides care assistance to named students who have special educational needs. They make an invaluable contribution to the schools capacity to provide inclusive education to these students.
The Special Educational Needs Department devises an appropriate strategy plan for a student with special educational needs. The SNA takes care of the implementation of this plan.
The Special Needs Assistant plays an important role in the health and safety of the student and in their social, emotional and educational development. It is important that the Special Needs Assistant supports student participation in school life without developing a culture of dependency.
The duties of the Special Needs Assistants involve tasks of a non-teaching nature such as:
- Attending both Staff and Departmental meetings when appropriate.
- Assisting / escorting students on school trips.
- Giving special assistance as necessary for students with particular difficulties e.g. helping special needs students with typing, writing or other use of equipment.
- Assisting with clothing, feeding, toileting and general hygiene and being mindful of health and safety needs of the student.
- Assisting with reading/scribing examinations (if appropriate).
- Assisting the teacher in the supervision of pupils during assembly and in movement from one classroom to another.
- Accompanying individual or small groups who may be withdrawn temporarily from the classroom.
- General assistance of the subject teacher of a non-teaching nature. Special Needs Assistants may not act as either substitute or temporary teachers. In no circumstances may they be left in sole charge of a class.
- Participation with school development planning, where appropriate, and co-operation with any such changes with policies and practices arising from the school development process.
- Engagement with parents of special needs pupils in both formal and informal structures as required.
- Other appropriate duties as may be determined by the needs of the pupils and the school. Special Needs Assistants may be re-assigned to other appropriate work when special needs students are absent or when particularly urgent work demands arise.
- Special Needs Assistants are expected to treat all matters relating to school business and their work as strictly confidential
- Transfer to Adult and Working Life
The learning support department in concert with the career guidance department will research with parents and students the varying avenues available to them on leaving second level. Links with all third level institutions will first be established by notifying the CAO of a specific learning difficulty or special need.
We will also pursue our links with the NLN, Adult Ed Centres attached to the ETB, Fás/Solas Training Centre and HSE where applicable. Career Investigations undertaken by students with the aid of the career guidance teacher may highlight particular jobs and skills that would be required by local employers. A survey of such employers in the locality will then be conducted. Work experience placements during TY, LC 1 and LCA 1 & 2 are also of benefit to SEN students’ seeking a career path.
- Bullying and Harassment
In Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine all pupils have the right to a safe learning environment. Therefore any form of bullying defined as “repeated verbal, psychological, or physical aggression conducted by an individual or group against others “will not be tolerated in this school community.
- Development of an Inclusive Curriculum
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine offers a full range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences vocational and technological areas. All students are free to choose from the subject’s available bearing in mind timetabling constraints.
- Links with Outside Agencies and Services
The Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) liaises closely with the Special Educational Needs co-ordinator and facilitates the delivery and co-ordination of educational services to children with SEN. The SENO also processes application forms for resources for SEN Students to the NCSE and advises parents/guardians regarding their son’s/daughter’s needs.
The National Psychological Service (NEPS) provide psychological assessments of students and recommendations on how best to address strengths and weaknesses identified. The service also advises as to how best to employ resources and strategies in the classroom, and school environment in general, to benefit SEN students.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provides support for students experiencing difficulties of a behavioural/emotional nature and provides advice and recommendations on how best to address those difficulties in a school environment. Other Agencies include the Health Service Executive (HSE), the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the Second Level Support Services (SLSS) and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI), Kerry ETB, National Learning Network, FAS/Solas. National Universities/ Colleges (Esp. the Learning support departments in these facilities)
Reviewed in May, 2016.