Whole School Policy for Special Education Needs
This policy was formulated in January 2008. The Board of Management, Principal, Class Teachers, Learning Support team and parents were involved in drawing up the policy.
- To assist the parents in making an informed decision in relation to the enrolment of their child with special needs in our school
- To comply with legislation and department circulars
- Our existing Policy was in need of review
Relationship to characteristic spirit of our school
Holy Family N.S. hope to serve all the children in our community without prejudice. We welcome our most challenged children. Their presence in our school will enrich our whole school community.
Principles of the Policy
The principles which underpin this policy on Special Education Teaching are:
- Inclusiveness: We aim to ensure that the educational needs, be it physical, emotional, or a learning difficulty, are catered for in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs.
- Equality: All children will have equality of access to participate as fully as possible in school instruction, sports, outings etc. where resources allow. Activities will be adapted to suit the individual needs having regard for the child’s age and ability.
- Parental Choice: The Board of Management of Holy Family N.S. recognises the rights of parents to send their children to a school of their choice.
- Short Term Intervention: Short term provision shall be made for children who suffer personal trauma, for example bereavement, illness, accident or family problems as per Circular Sp. ED. 02/05.
- To outline procedures and practices to be followed in relation to pupils with special needs.
- To outline our whole school approach to teaching in relation to pupils with special needs.
- To enable these pupils to participate as fully as possible in the curriculum at their class level and to modify the curriculum, in consultation with the class teacher, in order to meet the special needs of the child who is having difficulty coping.
- To develop self esteem and positive attitudes to school and learning in these pupils.
- To facilitate collaboration among teachers in the implementation of whole school policies on special education of these pupils.
- To involve parents in supporting their children’s learning through effective support programmes (e.g. shared reading).
- To promote expressive and receptive skills as necessary.
- To involve all partners in education in the drawing up of Individual Educational Programmes (I.E.P.) for each child subject to regular review and amendment.
- To consult with the class teacher who has overall responsibility for homework and to differentiate where necessary.
- To accept responsibility for both the allocation and correction of homework when delegated to do so by the class teacher.
Enrolment of Children with Special Needs
The capacity of the school to meet the needs of a child whose parents/guardians wish to enrol him/her in the school will be established by:
- Meetings with parents / principal / class teacher / learning support team
- Requesting copies of reports, assessments etc.
- Health and safety issues arising from the enrolment of a special needs child will be identified and strategies developed to address them, for example supervision in the yard, administration of medicine etc. (Refer to policy)
Roles and Responsibilities
The Board of Management, Principal, Class Teachers, Learning Support Teachers, Language Support Teachers, SNAs, parents and pupils share responsibility for meeting the needs of the child with special educational needs.
The Role of the Board of Management
- To ensure that section 2 of EPSEN Act 2004 is complied with, a child with SEN 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.
- To ensure that parents of pupils with SEN are informed and consulted regarding their child’s education.
- To co-operate with the National Council for Special Education.
- To ensure that all relevant staff of the school are aware of the special education needs of students and the importance of identifying these pupils.
- To promote an awareness among students of the requirements of persons with special needs and to facilitate an inclusive atmosphere in the school.
- To oversee the development, implementation and review of school policy on SEN.
- To ensure that adequate classroom accommodation and teaching resources are provided for all Support Teachers.
- To provide a secure facility for the storage of records relating to pupils in receipt of support teaching.
The Role of the Principal
- To assume overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the school’s policy on special needs and to delegate the performance of any of the functions conferred on him by the EPSEN Act 2004 to such teacher in the school as the Principal considers appropriate.
- To work with teachers in the development of the school plan on special needs.
- To monitor the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching.
- To oversee the implementation of a whole-school assessment and screening programme to identify pupils with learning difficulties so that they can be provided with the support they need as early as possible.
- To arrange an assessment after consultation with parents.
- To liaise with all outside agencies e.g. psychologist, social workers, speech therapists, SENOs etc.
- To facilitate renewing and updating resources.
The Role of the Class Teacher
- The class teacher who has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in her/his class and in supporting the implementation of the school plan on SEN, may implement programmes which optimises the learning of all pupils.
- To implement the school policies on screening and selecting pupils for supplementary teaching.
- To discuss the results of tests with the SEN teachers and advise on the selection of pupils for diagnostic assessment.
- To support the SEN teacher in developing and implementing a learning programme for selected pupils and to differentiate the class curriculum appropriately to meet the needs of all the pupils.
- To participate with the SEN teachers in a review of the progress of each pupil at the end of an instructional period.
- To make parents aware of the concerns of the school about their child’s progress.
- To consult with Learning Support teachers before parent/teacher meetings.
The Role of the Learning Support Teacher
- To consult with the Principal on issues arising in relation to children in receipt of supplementary teaching.
- To consult with class teachers on the identification of pupils who may need diagnostic assessment.
- To carry out diagnostic assessments on pupils identified as experiencing low achievement and/or learning difficulties and in consultation with the class teacher and parents identify the type and level of learning support necessary following the staged approach.
- To communicate on an ongoing basis with the parents of each pupil in receipt of supplementary teaching.
- To consult with parents regarding the setting and attainment of targets as outlined in the IEP and to review these.
- To consult with parents when supplementary teaching is to be discontinued and identify ways in which the pupil’s learning can continue to be supported at school and at home.
- To demonstrate techniques and strategies to parents that will enable them to help with their child’s development in such areas as oral language, reading, writing, and mathematics.
- To assist at meetings held to advise parents on how to implement a ‘Paired Reading Programme’
- To support the organisation of a Book Buddy system throughout the school.
The Role of the Language Support Teacher for Non-National Children
- To advise the Principal on issues that arise in relation to the co-ordination of overall services for children with language support needs.
- To communicate with parents where necessary in relation to their children’s progress in language support.
- To liaise and consult with the class teacher regarding the child’s language needs to enable him/her to participate as fully as possible in the school curriculum.
- To consult with the class teacher in developing a social language programme to enable the child to integrate fully with peers and adults in the classroom and in the yard.
- To celebrate the diversity of cultures in our school.
- To work daily with groups of children who are withdrawn from class but the possibility of in-class support is available.
- To attend conferences/workshops and seminars organised by Integrate Ireland – a support agency for teachers of non-Nationals.
- To access specific funds available for language support education.
The Role of the Parents
- To inform the Principal if they feel their child has special educational needs.
- To collaborate with the learning support teaching team in drawing up, implementing and reviewing the I.E.P. for their child.
- To support the work of the school and implement suggested home based activities.
Procedures for Early Identification / Screening / Referral of Special Needs Pupils from Within the School
The following formal and informal checklists and diagnostic tests are used along with teacher observation in our school.
Screening Checklists for all classes
- Testing reading readiness – print awareness and left to right orientation.
- Matching pictures, symbols and letters.
- Listening to stories, answering questions, identifying characters.
- Alphabet recognition, sound and formation (tested in early June).
- Sight vocabulary test based on readers (early June).
- Test colours and language, long/short, big/small, full/empty, light/heavy etc.
- Basic shapes – circle, square
- Number test – concept and formation of numerals 0-5 and the composition of these numbers
- Informal assessment through teacher observation
- Ongoing checking of new words in reading programme.
- Various word check booklets/wordsheets.
- Middle Infant Screening Test (M.I.S.T.): This tests listening skills, letter sounds, emergent writing and letter formation.
- End of year test attached to Maths series being used in class (in June).
- Micra-T (May).
- Informal Testing – weekly spellings, sentence dictation and word recognition.
- Informal maths test after completion of two topics.
- Sigma T (May).
Second – Fifth Classes
- Micro-T (May)
- Diagnostic Spelling Test may be administered if deemed necessary.
- Sigma-T (May).
- Weekly Spelling Tests.
- Ongoing Teacher Observation.
- Consultation with Support Teachers.
- Diagnostic Spelling Test may be administered if deemed necessary.
- Weekly Spelling Tests.
- Ongoing Teacher Observation.
- Consultation with Support Teachers.
The identification and selection of pupils will involve
- Administration, scoring and interpretation of an appropriate standardised screening measure by the class teachers.
- Selection of pupils for diagnostic assessment by the Learning Support Teacher in consultation with the Class Teacher and Principal.
- Administration of diagnostic tests by learning support teacher to each selected pupil (subject to the approval of the pupil’s parents) to identify the pupil’s learning strengths and needs.
- Determination of the nature of the intervention to be provided to the pupil, such as additional support from the class teacher and for supplementary teaching from the learning support teacher.
- Identification of learning targets and the development of individual profiles for the pupils to whom supplementary teaching is to be provided, in consultation with the principal, the pupil’s class teacher and parents or where appropriate the pupils themselves.
Caseload for Learning Support Teaching
When the needs of all pupils on or below the 10th percentile are met other pupils who are deemed to require support may be catered for subject to a maximum caseload of thirty pupils.
The Staff and Early Intervention Programmes
The class teachers in collaboration with the Learning Support Teachers will implement ‘The Staged Approach to Assessment, Identification and Programme Planning’ as outlined in Appendix 3 of Special Education Circular SP ED 02/05.
- Based on the findings of the ‘Stage One’ checklists the class teacher will draw up a short simple plan for extra help to be implemented within the normal classroom setting in the relevant areas of learning needs and/or behavioural management.
- In the case of pupils with serious emotional or behavioural difficulties, it is recognised that more urgent action may be needed.
These programmes will:
- Be part of a staged process and be set within a specified time frame of one term.
- Involve small group teaching, one-to-one teaching or intervention in the classroom.
- Promote the social and emotional development of the child.
- Include a strong emphasis on oral language and laying the foundation for meaningful reading.
- Focus on developing a basic sight vocabulary and on phonemic awareness.
- Stress the interconnected nature of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
- Focus on language development in mathematics and the development of mathematical procedures and concepts.
- A file containing all the relevant information pertaining to the pupil with special needs will be kept securely in the school.
- The Principal, Class Teacher, Learning Support/Resource Teacher, Psychologist, Special Needs Assistant (where relevant), Inspector, and parents/guardians of child will have access to this file.
- The file will be stored in the Principals office and in the Learning Support Room in secure cabinets.
- The Principal, Class Teacher, Learning Support/Resource Teacher and Special Needs Assistant have responsibility for contributing to this file.
- Files will be stored for ten years after pupils leave the school.
Implementation Date: This policy will be implemented from March 2008 onwards.
Review of Policy: This policy will be reviewed and amended if necessary in March 2010.
Ratification: This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 19th February 2008.
James Walsh (Chairperson)
Policy For Learning Support
The name of the school is Holy Family N.S. located at Kilteel Road, Rathcoole, Co Dublin.Ph.4580570
The denominational character of the school is Roman Catholic and the patron is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.
There is currently a staff of twenty teachers in the school which includes the Principal, 14 classroom teachers, two Learning Support Teachers, one Resource Teacher, two Language Support Teachers and one part-time Resource Teacher whose base school is Rathmore N.S.
The school is co- educational and children are taught from Junior Infants up to 6th class. There are 376 children currently enrolled in the school.
The Learning Support and Resource Teachers operate as one unit as a Special Education Needs (SEN) team. Children from Senior Infants to 6th Class deemed eligible for supplementary teaching are grouped together according to their classes, needs and abilities. The SEN team have 46 children receiving supplementary teaching in English and 44 children receiving supplementary teaching in Mathematics. There are 22 children receiving supplementary teaching in both English and Mathematics. The Language Support Teachers have 34 Non-English speaking children receiving language lessons in English.
Principles of Learning Support
The learning support service is designed to ensure that all pupils achieve basic literacy and numeracy by the time they complete their primary education. This can be achieved by
- The development of effective whole-school policies and the involvement of parents.
- The prevention of failure
- The provision of early intervention and
- The direction of resources towards pupils in greatest need.
Our belief is that there is a need to identify at an early stage children with low achievement in English and Mathematics and in consultation with parents, class-teacher, learning support teacher and others, a learning-support programme should be put in place for the lowest achieving pupils in Senior Infants to 2nd class in order to achieve a reduction in the numbers of pupils from 3rd to 6th class requiring supplementary teaching. We also believe that it is necessary to provide supplementary teaching for those pupils in 3rd to 6th class who have not achieved basic competence in English and Mathematics ie.those performing below the 10th percentile on nationally standardised test of literacy and numeracy.
The Principal aim of learning support is to optimise the teaching and learning process in order to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy before leaving primary school.
We also aim that pupils will
- Be able to participate in the full curriculum for their class level,
- Develop positive self-esteem and attitudes towards school and learning and
- Become independent learners.
To achieve this our aim is to involve parents in partnership with class teachers and learning-support teacher to plan and implement supplementary teaching programmes for these children and to implement a tracking system at whole-school level to monitor the progress of these pupils.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Principal teacher has overall responsibility for the school’s learning-support programme and for the operation of services for children with special educational needs.
In Holy Family N.S. this will entail:
- Working with teachers and parents in developing a school plan on learning support and special needs
- Monitoring the implementation of the school plan
- Liaising with the SEN team to ensure that supplementary teaching is focused on children with very low achievement
- Assigning direct responsibility for co-ordinating learning-support and special needs to the Learning Support Teacher and Deputy Principal, Mrs McNelis.
- Over-seeing the implementation of a whole school assessment and screening programme to identify pupils with very low achievement and/or learning difficulties
- Consulting with parents, class teachers and SEN teachers in initiating referrals to external assessment services such as psychological services (NEPS)
- Facilitating communications between class teacher and parents of pupils in receipt of supplementary teaching
- Maintaining a record of each child in receipt of supplementary teaching for a minimum of 10 years after he/she leaves Holy Family N.S.
In Holy Family N. S. the co-ordinator for learning-support and special needs services will be the Learning Support Teacher, Mrs. McNelis. Her duties will be:
- Maintain a list of pupils who are receiving supplementary teaching.
- Try to ensure that the caseload of any member of the SEN team is no more than 30 pupils and the maximum number per session is 4 pupils.
- Support the implementation of a tracking system at whole-school level to monitor the progress of children with learning difficulties.
- Facilitate the involvement of parents and others to contribute to the learning support within the school.
- Facilitate the involvement of parents and others to contribute to the learning support programme by inviting them to train for and participate in activities such as paired reading, story telling, library time and “buddy systems.”
The Class Teacher:
The class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in his/her class, including those selected for supplementary teaching. It is the duty of the class teacher to:
- Implement teaching programmes which may prevent the emergence of learning difficulties e.g. group teaching, placing emphasis on oral language, providing extra tutoring in literacy and numeracy, carrying out error analyses of a pupil’s work, modifying presentation and questioning techniques to maximise the involvement of pupils with low achievement, setting up “buddy systems” in class.
- Implement the school policy on screening and selecting pupils by administering and scoring appropriate screening measures in the first two weeks of May each year, and discussing the outcomes with the SEN teachers.
- Collaborate with the SEN teachers by identifying appropriate learning targets for each pupil who is in receipt of supplementary teaching and by organising classroom activities to achieve those targets.
- Maintain a record of progress of pupils who are in receipt of supplementary teaching to ascertain if the agreed learning targets are being achieved.
- Consult with parents of pupils of low achievement and obtain their consent for diagnostic teaching to take place and if necessary for the child to receive supplementary teaching.
Role of Learning Support Teachers:
The main focus of the learning support teachers’ work is the provision of supplementary teaching to pupils. This will be provided to a class of approx. 30 pupils with low achievement and/or learning difficulties and will be most successful in small groups of not more than four pupils or, if necessary, in one-to-one tutoring.
This will normally take place in the learning support (Reading) rooms. However, serious consideration will be given to the planned implementation of shared teaching approaches involving the class teacher and the learning support-teacher, in the pupil’s regular classroom.
The learning-support teachers will:
- Assist in the design and implementation of whole school strategies to prevent learning difficulties.
- Develop with the class teacher an Individual Profile and Learning Programme for each child selected for supplementary teaching.
- Maintain a weekly Planning and Progress Record of children in receipt of supplementary teaching.
- Provide, as a priority, supplementary teaching in English and/or Mathematics to children with low achievement and/or learning difficulties from Senior Infants to 2ndclass.
- Provide advice to class teachers re pupil assessment, programme planning, language development, reading, writing, and Mathematics for pupils experiencing specific learning difficulties.
- Contribute at school level to decision-making regarding the purchase of resources which would be of benefit to children with learning difficulties.
- Contribute to the development of a learning support policy.
- Meet with the Principal once each instructional term to discuss the development and implementation of the school plan on learning support.
- Advise the Principal on issues that arise in the day-to-day implementation of learning support.
- Carry out an initial diagnostic assessment of children, who after being screened by the class teacher, are identified as low achievers and/or have a learning difficulty.
- Meet with the parents to discuss the outcomes of the diagnostic assessment.
- Consult with the parents at the end of each instructional term to review the pupil’s progress and to decide if supplementary teaching is to be continued/discontinued.
- Set aside part of the month of June for consultations with Principal, class teachers and parents; for diagnostic assessment of children and for preparatory work for the first instructional term.
- Maintain a record of the attendance of pupils at supplementary teaching sessions.
- Divide the school year up into two (2) instructional terms.
- Attend a meeting with the Principal and the other members of the Learning Support Team once a year (usually the last week in May) to address issues relating to the provision of learning-support services in the school.
- Appraise teachers at each staff meeting on learning support within the school.
- Consult with the Junior Infants teacher at the end of the school year to identify children who are experiencing difficulties in English and Mathematics.
This policy will be reviewed on a regular basis.