Special Educational Needs Policy

School Policy of

St. Joseph’s Patrician College, Nuns Island, Galway.



1.1 Introduction

1.2 Rationale for Policy.

1.3 Aims of the Policy.

1.4 Objectives.

2.1 Roles and Responsibilities.

2.2 Duties of the Board of Management.

2.3 Duties of the Parent(s).

2.4 Duties of the Special Needs Assistant.

2.5 Duties of the Principal.

2.6 Duties of the Mainstream Teacher.

2.7 Duties of the Learning Support Teacher.

2.8 Duties of Resource Teachers.

2.9 Duties of Special Educational Needs Team.

1.1 Introduction
This policy is rooted in the Mission Statement and in the aims of St. Joseph’s Patrician College, ‘The Bish’, Nuns Island, Galway. It is committed to fostering in the student a spirit of self-reliance, independence and providing them with skills for life-long learning.


1.2 Rationale for Policy
Many learning-support pupils complete their formal education without enjoying the
experience of school and lacking the basic literacy, numeric skills and associated skills that are necessary for independent living. The learning support service is designed to ensure that all pupils achieve basic literacy and numeric skills by the time they complete their secondary education. The Policy complies with all legislation with regard to Special Needs Education provision in the Republic of Ireland.


1.3 Aims
The aims of the school  in relation to the provision of learning-support services and best practice in the general ‘Special Educational Needs’ area for pupils with low achievement and/or learning difficulties are as follows:

  • To enable these pupils to participate in the full curriculum for their class level;
  • To develop positive self-esteem and positive attitudes about school and learning in these pupils;
  • To enable these pupils to monitor their own learning and become independent learners;
  • To provide supplementary teaching and additional support and resources for these pupils in English and/or Mathematics;
  • To involve parents in supporting their children’s learning through effective parent support programmes;
  • To promote collaboration among teachers in the implementation of whole-school Policies on learning support for these pupils;
  • To establish early intervention programmes designed to enhance learning and to prevent/reduce difficulties in learning.


1.4 Objectives

The objectives of our school’s learning-support programmes for pupils with low achievement/learning difficulties are as follows:

  • To improve learning by these pupils;
  • To enhance their basic skills and learning strategies to a level which enables these pupils to participate in the full curriculum, or to, as great an extent as is possible in the circumstances taking into account medical, psychological, NEPS and SENO advice.
  • To help achieve an adequate level of competency in literacy and mathematics by these pupils before they leave secondary education;
  • To develop and help apply independent learning strategies with these pupils resulting in commitment to and involvement in their own learning, positive attitudes to school and high levels of self esteem;
  • To develop and encourage  partnership between management, class teachers, learning-support teachers and parents in planning and implementing supplementary teaching programmes for these pupil.
  • To implement a tracking system at whole-school level to monitor the progress of these pupils.


2.1 Roles and Responsibilites

2.2 Duties of the Board of Management
The Board of Management has an important role in developing, supporting and monitoring school policy on learning support and special needs educational provision. The Board of Management in our school will

  • Oversee the development, implementation and review of school policy on special needs services in general.
  • Ensure that adequate classroom accommodation and necessary teaching resources are provided for the learning-support teacher, and special needs team.
  • Provide a secure facility for storage of records relating to pupils in receipt of Special Needs Educational Team and Learning-Support services.


2.3 Duties of Parent(s)
Parent(s) have a dual function in Learning Support (L.S.):
1) In supporting the school and
2) In communicating with the school.

Supporting the School
Parent(s) shall

  • Be involved in creating a positive attitude towards school.
  • Be involved with education plans and IEP when introduced by the Department of Education & Science, by participating with students in activities such as language, maths and literacy.

Communicating with the School
Parent(s) shall

  • Discuss results of any pre-existing diagnostic assessment with L.S teacher/Special Needs Team.
  • Inform school of any learning difficulties observed at home. This also applies to progress of student.
  • Meet with L.S teacher to discuss specific targets / activities if L.S is to be continued or discuss how future learning needs can be met at home if L.S is to be discontinued.
  • Maintain regular contact with school through Parent/Teacher meetings and through any other information sessions organised by the school.


2.4 Duties of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA)
The duties of the SNA involve tasks of a non-teaching nature such as:

  • Assisting students when coming to school / going home in the evening.
  • Special assistance as necessary for pupils with particular difficulties as outlined by Special Educational Needs Team.
  • Assisting on out-of-school visits, walks and similar activities.
  • Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils with special needs during assembly, recreational and dispersal periods during and between classes and during exams as required.
  • The role of the SNA in the classroom is solely to assist the student with their subject following the guidance of the teacher.
  • Each student is exceptional and the duties of the SNA need to be modified to support the particular needs of the pupil concerned.
  • Regular communication between the teacher and SNA needs to take place with regard to progress in class and/or specific requirements that may arise.
  • The Head of Learning Support will liase with the SNA to implement the Special Educational Needs Team’s decision and design an effective programme for each individual student.


2.5 Duties of the Principal
The Principal has overall responsibility for the school’s learning-support programme as laid down in legislation. 

The Principal shall:

  • Assume overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the school’s policies on learning support and special needs.
  • Work with teachers and parents in the development of the school plan and review of policy on learning support and special needs and monitor it on a regular basis
  • Assume direct responsibility for co-ordinating Learning-Support and Special Needs Services as laid down in legislation.
  • Oversee the implementation of a whole-school assessment and screening programme to identify pupils with low achievement so that these pupils can be provided with the support they need.
  • Keep teachers informed in as confidential a manner as possible about the students with special needs and their needs and how they are currently being met by the school. Also to make known to teachers the external assessment services that are available and the procedures to be followed in initiating referrals.
  • Help teachers to increase their knowledge and skills in the area of learning-support teaching and encourage teachers to avail of relevant in-career development.


2.6 Duties of the Mainstream Teacher
Mainstream Teacher shall become informed of/becomes aware of students with learning difficulties.

  • The teacher identifies these students to the Principal who decides on appropriate measures.
  • Mainstream teacher accepts that everyone learns differently and recognises each students learning potential/style.
  • Students with learning difficulties are integrated into regular class as much as is possible. Withdrawal from a subject/from some classes may be deemed appropriate by the principal.
  • Teachers foster students' positive self-esteem by giving genuine praise whenever possible and promoting activities which yield success.
  • Teachers within the confines of Department Programmes adopt a flexible teaching style in order to accommodate different learning styles as indicated by the Special Needs Educational Team.
  • It is essential that teachers be informed of any specific difficulty that a student may have in order to facilitate the appropriate delivery of material.


2.7 Duties of the Learning Support Teacher
The learning support teacher shall:

  • Be involved in the screening of incoming first years in literacy and numeric skills using appropriate tests jointly agreed with the Principal,  Special Educational Needs Team and Guidance Policy.
  • Liaise with principal to provide an adequate timetable for learning support.
  • Promote literacy and numeric skills within the school.
  • Administer and record diagnostic assessments of student as deemed appropriate by the school educational psychologist, NEPS and/or the Special Educational Needs Team.
  • Review students' profiles and progress in line with their psychological reports and recommendations.
  • Design in conjunction with the Special Educational Needs Team instructional term plans to cater for individual needs.
  • Design basic Individual Education Plans for those with special needs in consultation with the resource teacher until such time as the EPSEN Act is implemented in full in line with Teacher Union Policy and training in developing appropriate IEP’s is agreed and put in place.
  • Meet and consult with principal and class teachers on teaching strategies for individual pupils and to review these strategies.
  • Assist the Guidance Department & School Counsellors when considered necessary with their recommendations for referral and contact and consult with psychologists and other outside agencies as deemed appropriate.
  • Contact and meet with parents as necessary to discuss future development and progress.
  • Improve students' literacy and numerical ability where possible.


2.8 Resource Teacher
The role of the resource teacher is to:

  • Provide extra tuition for children assigned to resource hours.
  • Develop and maintain detailed instructional term and weekly plans, consulting Head of LS when necessary.
  • Administer tests to provide levels and progress reports and provide same to Special Needs Team on a regular basis.
  • Keep up to date records of attendance and make themselves aware of the profiles of students who are in receipt of resource hours from them.
  • Consult with the Principal and Special Needs Team with regard to allocation of resource hours.
  • Collect all students for withdrawal from their classes ensuring they are under supervision at all times. 


2.9 Duties of Special Educational Needs Team

  • The Principal, Learning Support teacher(s), Guidance Counsellor(s) and Deputy Principal will comprise the core group of Special Needs Educational Team. They shall invite persons onto the team as they deem necessary. They will hold monthly meetings to discuss students in the school with Special Educational Needs. The Learning Support Teacher will co-ordinate and act as chairperson for the meeting. Minutes of the meeting will be kept on file by the Learning Support Teacher.
  • Incoming 1st Years are assessed by the Guidance Department and students requiring learning support or resource support are identified to the L.S. teacher. Application for resource hours to SENO takes place through the Guidance Department in consultation with Learning Support Teacher.
  • The Principal in consultation with all relevant personnel will establish requirements (hours, resources and teacher's room) to carry out procedure and will present this information to the B.O.M.
  • Immediate provision of L.S. teaching in English and Maths will be given to students identified.
  • L.S. teacher in consultation with Principal decides on specific timetable for provision of extra help after permission is received from the parent(s).
  • On-going assessment of all pupils in L.S. will take place to monitor those already in receipt of extra help.
  • Continuation of appropriate support in L.S class, mainstream class and/or at home or a discontinuation of supplementary teaching will take place.
  • A meeting of all relevant personnel will take place at the end of each Month to discuss findings of the above. This core group will be the Special Educational Needs Team.
  • All records of relevant consultations are to be forwarded to the L.S. teacher.

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