Get Adobe Flash player

Special Educational Needs Policy Corpus Christi GNS




1.      Introduction


2.      Profile of our School.


3.      Aims of Special Education Provision.


4.      Roles and Responsibilities in Special Education Provision.


5.      Strategies for Preventing Learning Difficulties.


6.      Strategies for Implementing Early Intervention Programmes.


7.      Identifying and Selecting Pupils for Supplementary Teaching.


8.      Provision of Supplementary Teaching by the Special Education Teacher.


9.      Continuing/ Discontinuing Pupils in receipt of Supplementary Teaching.


10.  Strategies for Communicating Information.


11.  Referring Pupils to out of School Agencies.


12.  Monitoring Progress of Individual Pupils.


13.  Record Keeping.


14.  Time-Tabling for Supplementary Teaching.


15.  Exceptionally Able Children


16.  Additional Duties of Special Education Teachers.


17.  Role of the Special Needs Assistant.


18.  Monitoring Implementation of the School Plan on Special Education.


19.  Reviewing School Policy on Special Education.


20.  Resources




1. Introduction


           The Special Educational Needs policy was reviewed and updated during the school year 2011-2012 by the Special Education Team and the Principal in consultation with the staff and the Board of Managment. The policy was revised in line with the Education Act(1998),The Education Welfare act (2000),The Equal Status Act(2000), The Disability Bill(2002) and the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (E.P.S.E.N) 2004. The school adheres to the terms of current circulars on special education provision published by the Department of Education and Skills.


The definition of Special Educational Needs as used in this policy is taken from the E.P.S.E.N Act which states


‘Special education needs’ means, in relation to a person, a restriction in the capacity 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…’


The policy will be implemented in accordance with DES guidelines and the rules for National Schools.




Corpus Christi GNS is a two storey building with an additional prefab. There are seven mainstream classrooms upstairs and eight downstairs. There are 3 special education classrooms, one upstairs and two downstairs. There is a designated computer room upstairs. The school leases the parish hall for PE and some other activities. The ground floor of the school is accessible by wheelchair. The toilets in the prefab are wheelchair accessible. The main toilets are not wheel chair accessible at present. However, the Board of Management is fully committed to converting same should it be necessary and subject to funding by the Does. The school has an administrations of medicines’ policy.


‘A child is entitled to attend the school which is most suited to his/her educational needs’(Disability Bill 2002).


Pupils are admitted strictly in accordance with the enrolment policy. Parents are required to notify the school of their child’s special educational needs in advance of enrolment in the school. A copy of all relevant reports pertaining to the child will be requested. No child will be refused enrolment solely on the basis of her special educational needs.




2. Profile of our School.


‘Corpus Christi is a Catholic Primary School in which we strive to learn together in a happy and safe environment, where everyone is valued, respected and encouraged to do their best.’


Corpus Christi National School was first established in 1931 by the Congregation of the Holy Faith Sisters. The school is a vertical primary school in the suburb of Drumcondra, 3 miles north of Dublin city centre. It is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin. There are 14 class teachers, 3 special education teachers and 4 special needs assistants at present. Our pupils are aged between 4 and 12 years. We have an average 95-98% attendance. We have access to the National Educational Psychological Service which is resourced by the the Department of Education and Skills. Our Special Education Needs Coordinator is Margaret Carroll.




 3. Aims of Special Education Provision.


  • to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy before leaving primary school.
    • 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 or mathematics.
  • to involve parents in supporting their children’s learning.
  • to promote collaboration among teachers in the implementation of whole-school policies for these pupils;
  • to establish early intervention programmes and other programmes designed to enhance learning and to prevent/reduce difficulties in learning.




4. Roles & Responsibilities in Special Education Provision.


A partnership approach to learning support is adopted involving class teachers, parents, special education teachers, the pupils themselves and outside support personnel such as speech and language therapists/psychologists.


The principal teacher has overall responsibility for the school’s special education provision and for the operation of services for children with special educational needs including:


• maintaining a list of pupils who are receiving supplementary teaching and/or


special educational services;


• helping to co-ordinate the caseloads/work schedules of the special education teachers;


• supporting the implementation of a tracking system at whole-school level to


monitor the progress of children with learning difficulties;


• advising parents on procedures for availing of special needs services;


• liaising with external agencies such as psychological services to arrange


assessments and special provision for pupils with special needs;


• arranging for classroom accommodation and resources, as appropriate.




  • The class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in his/her class, including those selected for supplementary teaching.
  • The main focus of the special education teacher’s work will be the provision of supplementary teaching to pupils. Other duties are outlines later in the policy.




5. Strategies for Preventing Learning Difficulties.


As a means of helping to prevent learning difficulties the following strategies are in use:


  • Whole school policy on language used in maths, strategies for teaching reading and phonics, can be found in relevant school plan. It is encouraged that this be adhered to throughout the school, to minimise confusion for pupils.
  • Teachers differentiate within classrooms according to a child’s needs.
  • The staged approach to special educational needs is followed. (See section 7)
  • Standardised tests are administered each year from senior infants to catch those who are experiencing difficulties from an early age. Children who perform below the 10th percentile will be offered learning support.
  • Children who are still experiencing difficulties following two school terms on stage one will also be considered for learning support.
  • Early intervention is part of our policy and priority is given to lower classes when timetabling.
  • Paired reading activities such as ‘book buddies’ are in operation in the school.
  • Promotion of parental understanding and involvement through the arrangement of formal and informal parent teacher meetings, tips for parents letter.
  • Ongoing observation and assessment is carried out by the class teacher.




6. Strategies for Implementing Early Intervention Programmes.


  • Supplementary teaching usually begins in senior infants with help provided in both Maths and English.
  • Early intervention is intensive. Junior infants to second class are given priority when timetabling.
  • Progress is reviewed each instructional term.
  • Pupils are taught in small groups or individually in some cases.
  • There is a strong focus on oral language, development of emergent reading ,phonics and phonological awareness. It reflects the interconnected nature of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Children experience success reading simple texts, suited to their ability and self esteem is enhanced.
  • In class support is provided by the special education team as appropriate.




7. Identifying and Selecting Pupils for Supplementary Teaching.


The staged approach is used in the identification and selection of pupils for supplementary teaching. Other factors considered include;


  • Analysis of standardized test results which are administered each year during the third term to all classes from Senior infants to sixth class.
  • New referrals to the school.
  • Additional information/ reports becoming available about children.




Standardised Tests used in the school

Drumcondra Primary Maths Test


Drumcondra Primary Reading Test


Drumcondra Spelling Test


Drumcondra Tests of early numeracy and literacy ( Senior Infants)










The Staged Approach to Assessment, Identification and Programme Planning




Stage I




A class teacher or parent may have concerns about the academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development of certain pupils. The teacher should then administer screening measures, which may include screening checklists and profiles for pupils in senior infants and first class, standardised, norm-referenced tests for older pupils and behavioural checklists where appropriate.




The class teacher will then draw up a short, simple plan for extra help to be implemented within the normal classroom setting, in the relevant areas of learning and/or behavioural management. The success of the classroom support plan will be reviewed regularly, with appropriate parental involvement. If concern remains after a number of reviews and adaptations to the plan, generally 2 terms, the special education support team or the learning support/resource teacher in the school will be consulted about the desirability of intervention at stage II.




Stage II




If intervention is considered necessary at stage II, then the pupil will be referred to the learning support/resource teacher, with parents’ permission, for further diagnostic testing. If this diagnostic assessment suggests that supplementary teaching would be beneficial, this will be arranged. Following consultation with the parents the class teacher and the learning support teacher will draw up a learnng programme which may include appropriate interventions for implementation in the home, in the classroom, and during supplementary teaching.




The rate of progress of each pupil receiving supplementary teaching is reviewed regularly. If significant concerns remain after a number of reviews and adaptations to the learning programme, then it may be necessary to provide interventions at stage III.




In the case of pupils with emotional or behavioural difficulties, it is recognised that, with serious difficulties, more urgent action may be needed. In these cases the pupil’s needs should, with parents’ permission, be discussed with the NEPS psychologist and/or the case will be referred to the clinical services of the Health Services Executive. This may lead to a more detailed behavioural management programme to be implemented at home and in class, or to referral for further specialist assessment (stage III).


Stage III




Some pupils who continue to present with significant learning needs will require more intensive intervention at stage III. The school may formally request a consultation and, where appropriate, an assessment of need from a specialist outside the school in respect of pupils with learning difficulties or with mild or moderate behavioural problems (or both) who have failed to make progress after supplementary teaching or the implementation of a behavioural programme and in respect of pupils with serious emotional disturbance and/or behavioural problems. Such specialist advice may be sought from psychologists, paediatricians, speech and language therapists, audiologists, etc.[1]


Following assessment it may be necessary to apply to the National Council for Special Education for additional resources for the child. This may be in the form of SNA support, assistive technology or resources teaching hours. Parental consent will be sought before any such application is made. Where a child is granted resource hours, the learning support/resource teacher, the class teacher, in consultation with the relevant specialist or specialists where available, will then draw up a learning programme that includes identification of any additional available resources that are considered necessary in order to implement the programme. The parents will be consulted throughout this process. This programme should be the subject of regular reviews, leading to revisions of the learning programme and referral for specialist review, as necessary.


In the case of pupils identified at an early age as having very significant special educational needs, intervention at stage III will be necessary on their entry to school. Support in the classroom will be an essential component of any learning programme.






8. Provision of Supplementary Teaching by the Special Education Teacher.




The primary work of the special education teacher is the provision of supplementary teaching to pupils who experience low achievement in English or mathematics or those who are identified as having special educational needs.


  • In consultation with the class teacher and the parents the special education teacher will devise and implement a programme that involves delivering intensive small-group or one-to one tutoring to those who have been selected for supplementary teaching.




The school year will be divided into two instructional terms of approximately twenty weeks each. Reviews will take place in February. A system of withdrawal or in-class support will operate in response to the needs of the pupils.The Special Education Teacher maintains the following documents in individualized files:




A)    IPLP ( individual pupil learning profile)


B)     Short term planning and programme record


C)    Reading Analysis Records


D)    Test Results for screening and diagnostic tests.










9. Continuing/Discontinuing Pupils in Receipt of Learning Support.


All decisions taken in relation to the discontinuation of a child from Learning Support

 will take account of the overall special educational needs in the school. 

  • At the end of each instructional term, the IPLPs will be evaluated.
  • The Special Education Teacher will meet with the class teacher to discuss the progress made by each child.
  • If both teachers are satisfied that the child can cope in the class without any supplementary help, learning support is discontinued.
  • At the end of the year standardised testing will also show those who have made sufficient progress to allow supplementary teaching to be discontinued.
  • Parents will be notified by the class teacher if learning support is to be discontinued.
  • Children who have attended learning support at any time are carefully monitored by the class teacher.




  1. Strategies for Communicating Information.


The operation of an effective communication system between all parties involved in meeting the learning needs of the child is essential.

 Parents will be given their child’s standardized test results in writing.

  • Class teacher informs parents if pupil is to begin on the staged approach.

Parents must give written consent for all diagnostic testing. 

  • The Special Education Teacher together with the class teacher meets with the parents of newly selected pupils following diagnostic testing.
  • Parents meet with the special education teacher at the parent-teacher meetings. Progress is reviewed and targets for next term are discussed.
  • Parents can request a copy of their child’s IPLP.
  • Parents are requested to sign reading record where appropriate.




11. Referring Pupils to Out of School Agencies



The Principal coordinates the referral of pupils to outside agencies.



A. Psychological Assessments


Children are prioritised and selected for assessment in consultation with class teacher,


parents, special education teachers and NEPS psychologist. The following factors are  

considered when selecting pupils for psychological assessment : 

  • Pupil continues to struggle at class level.
  • Pupil has been attending learning support but is not showing any significant progress. (stage 3).
  • Pupil is scoring below the tenth percentile on standardised tests.
  • Pupil is presenting with other significant educational needs.




      Making Contact with Parents.




  • The Principal in consultation with the class teacher and special education contacts the parents to discuss the need for assessment.
  • Parents fill out developmental history form and sign consent form.
  • Consent form must be signed by both parents ( or legal guardian where applicable).




       Liaise with Assessment Services.




  • Principal arranges for a psychologist to conduct an assessment and a date is set.
  • Parents and teachers are given written confirmation of assessment date.
  • Parents and teachers and special education teacher/principal may meet the psychologist on that date.    






Information for Psychologist.



  • Class teacher and special education teacher complete forms outlining the child’s difficulties.
  • Copies of all forms are kept in office.
  • A developmental history form is completed by the parents and returned to the school for the psychologist.
  • The psychologist may request other forms such as Connors Rating Scale on occasion.



Results of Assessment.



  • Copies of the assessment are sent directly to the parents and to the school.
  • The original copy is kept in the Principal’s office.
  • Reports are available to the class teacher and to the special education teacher.






12. Monitoring the Progress of Individual Pupils.


Monitoring is ongoing and will be done by the class teacher and the special education teacher. Progress on the IPLP will be reviewed at the end of each instructional term. The plans devised for such pupils, and primary responsibility for the pupil will remain with the class teacher, in consultation with the learning support/resource /or resource teacher




13. Record Keeping


In order to plan and record the achievement and progress of pupils, the Special Education Teacher and the Class Teacher will devise a plan using an Individual Profile and Learning Programme (IPLP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP), to be revised each instructional term.


  • This IPLP includes accommodations being made by the teacher in the classroom
  • A weekly planning and progress record
  • Checklists, running records, samples of work, miscue analysis tests
  • Results of screening and diagnostic tests administered to each pupil
  • Stage 1 form completed by class teacher.
  • Records of those who have accepted or declined supplementary teaching.
  • A copy of each child’s IPLP will be given to the relevant class teacher.


These records are stored in a locked filing cabinet in special education teacher’s room.


Copies of psychologist reports, therapist reports, copies of stage 1 forms and annual reports cards are kept securely stored.




14. Timetabling for Supplementary Teaching.


  • Children who receive supplementary teaching in English and/or maths should not miss out on that subject in the classroom. Teachers will be allocated times for their pupils early in September so that they can take this into account when drawing up their own timetable.
  • Special Education teachers plan together to coordinate timetables.
  • Timetables are reviewed at the end of each instructional term.
  • Timetables are organised so the children will not miss out on any activities such as gym, art, computers, etc.
  • Care should be taken to ensure children do not miss the same subject each day.
  • Classes currently operate both on a withdrawal basis and with in class support.
  • The timetable is drawn up in consultation with the teachers involved. It will be flexible and reviewed each instructional term.
  • Priority is given to lower classes when giving times, e.g. early morning.
  • Senior Infants are collected from their classrooms while 1st -6th come to classes independently.
  • Sufficient time is given for children to return to their classrooms at break, lunch and home time.


15. Exceptionally Able Children:


  • Children are catered for within their classroom.
  • There is an option to refer a child to Dublin City University for additional courses.




  • Department of Education and Skills guidelines on catering for exceptionally able children are in use n the school.






16. Additional Duties of Special Education Teacher



  • The Special Education teacher will spend the majority of time teaching; however, some time must be devoted to non-teaching activities. e.g. Record keeping, planning, meetings, testing, etc
  • It is also the responsibility of the Special Education teachers to organise the administration of standardised tests. These are to take place in May/ June each year. This involves ordering tests, organising their return for correction and distributing the results to the class teachers.
  • In September, the Special Education teachers will use the first 2 weeks to organise groups for supplementary teaching, meet parents, and administer diagnostic tests.
  • Special Education teachers meet and review pupils with class teachers in September and at the end of each instructional term.


17. Special Needs Assistants:


All applications for special needs assistants are processed by our Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Margaret Carroll. Special Needs Assistants are employed by the Board of Management in accordance with DES procedures and with DES conditions of employment.




Types of Duties:


Special Needs Assistants are recruited specifically to assist schools in providing the necessary non–teaching services to pupils with assessed educational needs. Their duties are assigned by the Principal acting on behalf of the Board of Management. Their work is supervised either by the Principal or another teacher as determined by the Principal. Those duties involve tasks of a non-teaching nature such as:


1.                    Preparation and tidying up of classrooms.


2.                    Assisting school children to board and alight from school buses. Where necessary travel as escort during school hours on school buses may be required.


3.                    Special assistance as necessary for children with particular difficulties e.g. helping special needs pupils with typing or writing or computers or other use of equipment.


4.                    Assistance with clothing, feeding, toileting and general hygiene and being mindful of health and safety needs of the pupil.


5.                    Assisting on out-of-school visits, walks, examinations and similar activities.


6.                    Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils during assembly, recreation and dispersal from the classroom for one reason or another.


7.                    Accompanying individuals or small groups who may have to be withdrawn temporarily from the classroom for one reason or another.


8.                    General assistance to the class teachers, under the direction of the Principal, with duties 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 or group of children).


9.                    Participation with school development planning, where appropriate, and co-operation with any such changes with policies and practices arising from the school development process.


10.                Engagement with parents of special needs pupils in both formal and informal structures as required and directed by school management.


11.                Other duties appropriate to the grade as may be determined by the needs of the pupils and the school from time to time. Special Needs Assistants may be re-assigned to other work appropriate to the grade when special needs pupils are absent or when particular urgent work demands arise.




18.   English Language Support


In line with current Department of Education guidelines ( 2012), children who require additional support for english as an additional language will be catered for under the general allocation model. The primary assessment kit will be used to assees the pupils’ level of english.




19. Monitoring Implementation of School Plan for Special Educational Needs.


The principal and special education teachers will meet regularly to discuss :


  • pupil selection
    • pupil progress
    • timetable issues
    • parental involvement
    • testing
    • early intervention
    • referrals for assessment
    • resources
    • in class support and best practice when working with class teachers




20. Reviewing Policy for Special Educational Needs.


The special education policy will be implemented from 2007 and will be reviewed every 3 years following a discussion with the involved parties, i.e. the Principal, Special Education teachers, class teachers and Board of Management.






21. Resources for Special Education.


Provision is made for children with Special Educational Needs in accordance with the resources provided by the Department of Education and Skills.


(See list of resources included in appendix)


  • Resources are shared between all Special Education Teachers.
  • There is a maths equipment area in the school from which items can be borrowed.
  • The staff room also has a selection of reference books that can be borrowed.
  • Teachers have access to the photocopiable books used by the special education teachers.
  • The School has access to services from the following agencies;


Special Education Support Services and the Inspectorate                        


Primary Curriculum Support Programme


National Educational Psychological Services


National Council for Special Education

Visiting Teacher Service