Special needs policy

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          This policy was formulated by the Special Ed. Team in Caragh N. S. following consultation with staff during the school year

           2004 – 2005.

          It is based on recommendations under the following D.E.S. Circulars:

                                S.N.A. 03/03
                                Circular 08/99
                                Circular 08/02
                                Circular Sp. Ed. 09/04
                                Circular 13/04
                                Circular 01/05

          It is formulated in compliance with Govt. legislation.

                                The Education Act 1998.
                                Education for persons with Special Ed. Needs Act 2004.

          It has been ratified by the Parents’ Council and B.O.M. of Caragh National School.

          The need for a formal policy was deemed necessary, as a result of the enrolment over the past number of years of children

           with special needs in our school.

          We hope this policy will assist parents in making an informed decision in relation to the enrolment of their child in our


The aims of this policy are:

     -     To outline procedures and practices to be followed in relation to pupils with special needs.

     -     To outline our whole school approach to teaching/learning in relation to pupils requiring special support

     -     To enable pupils with disabilities to share as complete an educational experience as is possible with their peers.

     -     To establish communication structures for the involvement of parents of pupils with special needs.

                                            Caragh National School
                                                   SPECIAL NEEDS POLICY


In accordance with our vision statement (Appendix 1) inclusion in Caragh N.S. means that our school strives to accommodate
the needs of each child. We strive to create an environment and atmosphere whereby all children, those with assessed
special needs, and those with less obvious emotional needs, learn together with their peers in ordinary mainstream classes.
While recognising the central role of the class teacher, we organise a network of support, through the Special Education
Team comprising of Specialist Teachers and Special Needs Assistants to assist the child to participate to their fullest potential
in the life and work of the school. The entire staff, teaching and ancillary, of the school employ a number of strategies to
enable the child to participate in the learning process with his/her peers. These include:-

       -     The provision of an Individual Education Plan
       -     Mixed ability groupings
       -     Dedicated time at staff meetings for discussion of Special Needs.
       -     Co-operative Learning activities
       -     Planning and I.E.P. writing meetings
       -     Circle-time activities and other social activities.
       -     Provision of specialist manuals, books for all staff to consult.
       -     Arrangements for staff to attend Seminars and conferences etc, organised by Specialist Groups
       -     Sessions organised to help with gross motor movement.
       -     Ongoing contact and meeting with outside agencies involved with a particular child.
       -     Participation in music sessions, percussion
       -     Organisation of S.N.A’s to meet child’s needs
       -     Provision of specialist I.T. programmes.
       -     See document “Supporting Disadvantage in Caragh School”. (Appendix 2)

The ethos of the school celebrates difference and the uniqueness of each individual in the school community, and the
atmosphere and attitude of the entire staff is positive towards inclusion.
Our Mission Statement states “ The primary aim of the school community is to educate children in a safe, supportive,
respectful learning environment that provides all students the opportunity to maximise their potential and become healthy
and productive members of our ever changing society”.


In accordance with General Enrolment Policy
  – The school requests parents of prospective pupils to fill out an enrolment form and to specify any known special needs
       behavioural or health problems.
  – Where areas of needs are identified and disclosed by parents meetings are arranged between principal and parents
       with a view to ensuring that resources are in place before child begins school.
  – The school will request parents to provide copies of recent assessments from relevant professionals involved with the
       child, and may ask the parents permission to organise meetings between these professionals and relevant school staff.
       The school management will use these reports to access resources where appropriate.


Parents of children with special needs will be involved in the planning of an I.E.P. for their child and will be invited by the
S.E.T. to meetings at least once a term. S.E.T. may communicate with home through a note-book system. The school policy
on Special Ed. Needs will be available from the school office and on the school website. An information meeting for parents
of Special Needs children will be held each year to outline how the system works.


  -    The B.O.M. will address issues of Health and Safety necessities by the enrolment of a child with special ed. needs
  -    Wheelchair access is available to main school building only.
  -    Classrooms without toilets – S.N.A to assist supervise pupils in toilets if necessary.
  -    Some special needs children may need help with toileting where there are inclass toilets.
  -    Pupils who need medicines administered parents will be requested to complete relevant permission form. (Appendix
  -    Supervision (Playtime) Special Needs Assistant will supervise children under the direction of teacher on duty. Where a
       child’s behaviour is a danger to himself/herself or others, teacher on duty will request principal, deputy principal to
  -    Differentiated approaches to behaviour may be necessary for some special needs pupils. Strategy will be decided by
       S.E.T., Principal, class teacher and other relevant professionals and communicated to all staff on yard duty rota.


Initial Screening Junior + Senior Infants:

  -    Parents are requested to complete an individual profile on their child (Appendix 4). This profile is distributed and
       explained at Induction Day. These profiles are retained by Class Teacher in Junior Infants.
  -    During Junior Infants, teachers complete an observation checklist (Appendix 5) on children to identify those who seen
       to be experiencing difficulties.
  -    Additional checklist Appendix 6, 7, 8, are completed for pupils where doubts about specific areas exist.
  -    In the third term of J. I. pupils who seem to be still experiencing difficulty are assessed (using the E.Y.E.S) test and
       appropriate programmes are put in place by class teacher with the assistance of the S.E.T.
  -    Parents will be informed of our concerns by class teacher and their role in intervention programme explained –
       Written record of this to be retained.(Appendix 9).
  -    At the end of Junior Infants all children’s progress will be assessed on Teacher designed tests and checklists (Appendix
  -    In Senior Infants, intervention programmes are offered to children during Term 1. These may be on withdrawal or
       in-class basis by S.E.T.
  -    Parents of all children being offered an intervention programme are contacted by class teacher and their consent

Parents who do not wish to avail of this intervention are asked to complete relevant form (Appendix 11).
In general these intervention programmes are in the area of Literacy. Pupils with diagnosed Low Incidence Disabilities
receive one-one or small group help from S.E.T. This can be on a withdrawal, or in class basis depending on the child’s
needs, and also taking into consideration the needs of other class members. A combination of both these is also used and
the change of roles between class teacher and S.E.T may apply for some sessions.

During Term 2 of Snr. Infants all children are screened on M.I.S.T by class teacher with help of S.E.T. children are offered a
special six week Forward Together Programe in conjunction with parents to help with areas of difficulty.

Children from Junior or Senior Infants who still appear to be having difficulties despite early intervention programmes and
individual behaviour modification programmes, may need to be assessed. Need for assessments will be discussed with parents,
by class teacher and Deputy Principal/Principal. Referrals are made to N.E.P.S. psychologist through the deputy principal.

All teacher observation schedules, individual programmes and data relating to the child will be used to complete forms
requested by psychologists. - (During the year requests for assessment have been made to a private psychologists under the
N.E.,P.S. funding scheme with children been assessed in school and provision being made for parents to meet with
psychologist). The psychologist will consult with the S.E.T. and principal and report will be seen by class teacher and special
Ed. teacher involved with child. As this report will form the basis of the child’s I.E.P. the recommendation may be discussed
with the S.N.A. involved with the child.


-      Children from 1st – 6th classes are screened using the Micra T and Sigma T tests for English and Maths.
-      Pupils falling below the 12th percentile are offered support by S.E.T. in small groups.
-      Where possible, pupils between the 12th – 20th percentile are also offered extra support.
-      All children being offered extra support are tested diagnostically and grouped according to there needs.

Under the revised weighted system, children needing Learning Support, those diagnosed with borderline mild General Learning
Disabilities and Dyslexia must all receive support under existing staffing allocation. When those who fall below the 20th
percentile in the schools selected screening procedure are included in groups – any remaining places may be allocated to
children experiencing specific difficulties. Where these children are not included in specific support groups – support will be
offered by class teachers with the help of the S.E.T.

-      Children who are involved in support groups and are still not making progress may be referred to psychologist for
       Educational assessment – procedure as for younger children

-      Children experiencing emotional / behavioural difficulties may also be referred for psychological assessment as part of
       an overall assessment even if they are not experiencing learning difficulties.

-      Flexibility will exist in the selection of children for Learning Support, to allow for short-term intervention for children
       who suffer personals trauma- i.e. bereavement, illness, accident or family disruption

-      Children may also be referred to Child Guidance Centre for specific clinics i.e. A.D.H.D.

-      Children from families experiencing family disruption may be referred to Naas Child and Family Project.


The question of the need to grant exemption from the learning of Irish should arise in rare and exceptional circumstances.
In arising the procedures as laid out in circular 12/96 will be followed at each stage. (Appendix 12)


Intervention programmes are offered by the Special Ed. Team in accordance with Circular 13/04 and school policy sheet.
(Appendix 13 )
 All S.E.T. personnel cater for some Resource Teaching of children with Low Incidence Disability,
High Incidence Disability, Learning Support and Support Teaching for Traveller children. The teacher assigned as R.T.T. will
retain overall responsibility for Traveller children in the school and will retain some time each day for contact, to organise
homework etc. The R.T.T. will also liase with parents of Traveller children. All S.E.T. will deal with a specific class group as
set out in school policy arrangement sheet.

Intervention Programmes are organised as follows:


Resource Teaching granted on the basis of Psychological Assessment (Low Incidence Disabilities) – children are offered support
individually and/or in small groups, according to their needs and for hours per week as specified by D.E.S. from Jan. 2005
by S.E.N.O. (Special Education Needs Organiser) This support may be on a withdrawal or on an in-class basis.
- An I.E.P. is prepared for each child by the S.E.T. in consultation with class teacher and parents. Psychological and other
      professional reports are used as basis of this I.E.P. The I.E.P. will be updated when necessary and at least twice a year
      at the start of each instructional term.
- S.E.T. will meet with other professionals working with child when requested.
- S.E.T. will plan I.E.P. in an effort to allow child access to all areas of the curriculum in a meaningful manner.
- Older children will be encouraged to contribute towards their I.E.P.
- Format for I.E.P. is designed by the Special Ed. Team and will be reviewed each year (Appendix 14)
- Resource teaching for children with diagnosed (High Incidence Disabilities) will be organised alongside Learning Support
      groups or on an individual basis under weighted system and a waiting list will operate.
- Psychological assessments, and teachers observation schedules and diagnostic test results will be central to their I.E.P.’s.

Learning Support

-    Following screening children to be considered for Learning Support will be tested diagnostically by the S.E.T. allocated to
     their class group. The following are the Diagnostic tests used:

                        Maths Matter check-up
                        Young Groups Maths Tests
                        Quest - Maths + English
                        Aston Index
                        Neale Analysis of Reading Ability
                        Daniels and Dick St. Reading tests
                        Teach yourself to diagnose reading difficulties
                        Cloze Tests
                        Jackson phonic skills
                        SPAR
- In as far as possible, while minimising class disruption and maintaining children’s self-esteem children will be grouped
   according to need.
- Learning support groups may exist for short periods and concentrate on specific areas identified for remediation.
- S.E.T. may work in class in conjunction with class teacher or may withdraw groups.
- I.E.P are reviewed at the end of each instructional term and more often if necessary.


-      All Special Education teachers draw up a timetable to accommodate Low Incidence and High Incidence resource groups
       and Learning Support groups for the class groups assigned to them. This is done in consultation with class teacher. A
       degree of flexibility is critical.
-      Time is allowed for consultation between class-teacher and S.E.T. at least twice in a year. Once in each instructional
-      Copies of all timetables are retained by deputy principal.
-      Where necessary S.N.A. also timetable their time to maximise one-one support.
-      Some children receiving support will require a differentiated timetable.


-      Each S.E.T. will monitor progress using checklists and teacher designed tests.
-      This progress is monitored, daily, weekly, fortnightly as appropriate (Appendix 15)
-      Programmes are revised at the end of each instructional term and more often if necessary.
-      When children attending learning support make significant progress learning support may be discontinued – child
       will be monitored by S.E.T. and class teacher.


-      A wide range of specialist materials are available and resources are expanded and improved on an ongoing basis.
-      These materials are organised into those suitable for Junior, Middle and Senior classes and are also available as a
       Resource to class teachers. See Resource Inventory.


         We strive to support children of assessed exceptional ability in our school in the following ways:

-      Use of I.C.T.
-      Proposed installation of Broadband will enhance use of I.C.T.
-      Project work.
-      Provision of encyclopaedia and publication such as National Geographic.
-      Organising contacts with centre for gifted children in D.C.U. providing information leaflets.
-      Differentiated programmes in class.
-      Accelerated reading programmes and National newspaper corner
-      Lego mindstorm sessions.
-      Debating and discussion.
-      Chess.


-      All staff are made aware of courses/lectures/workshop etc which are available in Education Centres and Colleges of Ed.
-      Staff are facilitated in attending courses approved by D.E.S. during school time.
-      The school has a personal dev. grant?
-      Specialist books and manuals are available.


The following structures are in place to allow open communication among all partners involved with child needing special

         -    Class teacher and parent: formal meeting once each instructional term – more often by appointment through
              school office – school welcomes parents input, a general open door policy operates in the school.

          -    Class teacher and Sp. Ed. teacher - Formal meetings at least once every instructional term, with cover
               provided for class teacher. More often if requested and informally when required
          -    Special Ed. team (Teachers)- once a month – more often if necessary – principal to attend if necessary.
          -    Special Ed. Teacher and class teacher and other agencies – every effort is made to facilitate outside agencies
               meeting with teachers involved with a child.
          -    Special Ed. Teacher and parent at least once every instructional term and more often if required.


As S.N.A.’s are a vital part of the Special Ed. Team, it is important that their role in supporting the child is clear from the
child’s I.E.P. They also play a vital role in supporting the class teacher in allowing the child with special needs to access the
curriculum as fully as possible and in assisting the class teacher in dealing with the extra demands of having child requiring
extra support. Their role is further detailed in school document on S.N.A.’s (Appendix 16) and circular 07/02.


The school Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying Policy makes allowance for a differentiated approach for children with
behavioural and or emotional problems. (See School Code of Behaviour and Anti – Bullying Policy).


With the help of the S.N.A assigned all pupils with special needs are encouraged to access and participate in all curricular
areas and extra curricular activities I.E. swimming, school excursions etc.


Parents of pupils requiring special support are advised to carefully select a school for their child – (Appendix 17)

Principal, S.E.T and 6th class teacher will meet with teacher from 2nd         level school when requested and with parental
permission will supply all relevant data on child.


The school S.P.H.E. programmes is designed to help pupils appreciate, recognise and celebrate differences and to provide
insights into areas of disability.

The R.S.E. policy of the school takes cognisance of the maturity level of Special Ed. pupils, when offering R.S.E. programme.


-      All relevant reports pertaining to pupils with special needs are contained in staff-room filing cabinet which is locked.
-      Principal, Deputy Principal, Class Teacher and Special Ed. Teacher may have access to files.
-      S.N.A.’s , may have access at Principals discretion.
-      All S.E.T. have locked filing cabinet for own records and work files.
-      Reports are stored for required legal limits.
-      All relevant reports are added to file by class teachers, Special Ed. Teachers, Principal.


The following will be the general indicators of the success of our policy.

-      The inclusion of special needs pupils into our school.
-      The progress of pupils with special needs.
-      Assessments showing progress
-      Increased self-esteem among pupils
-      Positive changes in behaviour.
-      Feedback from Parents of Special Needs Pupils.
-      Feedback from:

                        Teaching staff
                        S.N.A.’s
                        Pupils
                        Psychologist and other professionals
                        Child Guidance Clinic

-      Inspectors Reports and comments.


-      Deputy Principal will have overall responsibility for implementation of policy
-      Each S.E.T. has responsibility for special needs pupils in classes assigned to them.
-      Class teacher has overall responsibility for pupils progress.


The policy will be implemented from Jan. 1st 2005.


Policy will be reviewed by Jan. 2006