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Special Education Needs Policy

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Geashill National School
Special Education Needs Policy

Introductory Statement

This policy was drawn up by the Principal and staff at a series of consultative meetings which took place during 2005/2006 school year. This policy was reviewed at a staff meeting in 2009.


The purpose of this policy is to provide practical guidance for teachers, parents and other interested persons on the provision of effective special education teaching to pupils experiencing low achievement and/or learning difficulties and to fulfil our obligations under the Education Act, 1998.

Relationship to the Characteristic Spirit of the School

In our school we are dedicated to helping each child to achieve his/her individual potential. The provision of a quality system of special education teaching is integral to this commitment.


Through the implementation of this policy we strive to:

1. Facilitate pupils to participate in the full curriculum for their class level.
2. Develop positive self-esteem and positive attitudes to school and learning.
3. Enable pupils to monitor their own learning and become independent learners within their own ability.
4. Involve parents in supporting their children's learning.
5. Promote collaboration among teachers.


The following procedures are being implemented as a means of responding effectively to pupils' individual learning needs.

1. Preventative Strategies

As a means of preventing the occurrence of learning difficulties, the following strategies are being implemented:

  • Development and implementation of agreed approaches to language development e.g. phonological awareness and to the teaching of other aspects of the English and Maths programmes e.g. Maths language;
  • Class-based early intervention by the class teacher resulting in the provision of additional individualised support;
  • Promotion of parental involvement through their attendance at an induction meeting for the parents of incoming Junior Infants, the provision of the "Tips for Parents" booklet, the arrangement of formal and informal Parent/Teacher Meetings.
  • Ongoing observation and assessment.

2. Early Intervention Programme

  • Early intervention begins for pupils in Junior Infants in response to the class teacher's observations - see Early Risk Indicators attached. All class teachers will follow the continuum of support guidelines.
  • Any child deemed immature or unable to cope with the Junior Infant Programme is screened using The Belfield Infant Assessment Test.
  • All Senior Infants are screened using MIST after completion of five terms in school.
  • Taking account of the level of provision of special education teaching to our school, lessons take place on a daily basis and are of thirty to forty minute duration.
  • The Special Education Teacher decides the size of groups, taking into account the individual learning needs of pupils and the overall caseload.
  • Groups are kept to between 2 and 3 pupils per session.
  • Lessons focus on the development of phonemic awareness, word identification strategies, oral work, silent reading and comprehension skills, IT skills and basic maths operations and problem solving.

3. Selection of Pupils for Supplementary Teaching

  • Priority for special education teaching is given to those pupils who perform at or below the 10th percentile on standardised tests.
  • Special attention is given to Junior/Senior infants who present with speech and language difficulties or those identified by HSE, Early Intervention Team (preschool) as needing extra support.
  • We also consider those whose attainments in standardised tests do not correlate with their IQ scores (NRIT).
  • In the case of each pupil a consultative meeting between the class teacher, parents and the Special Education Teacher concerning the pupil's performance is arranged.
  • Parental consent is sought for the conducting of diagnostic assessment and for their inclusion in Learning Support Class.

The tests in use are:

1. Marino Reading Test
2. Spar Reading Test
3. Schonell Reading Test
4. Gap Reading/Comprehension Test
5. Micra-T
6. Sigma-T
7. Bangor Dyslexia Test
8. Middle Infant Screening Test
9. Belfield Infant Assessment Test
10. Rain Reading Test
11. Neale Analysis
12. Aston Inden-Diagnostic Tests
13. Non Reading Intelligence Test - Young
14. Daniels/Diach Spelling Test

These tests are administered by the Special Education Teacher. A further consultative meeting then takes place to consider the outcomes of the assessment.

4. Provision of Supplementary Teaching

  • The primary work of the Special Education Teacher is the provision of supplementary teaching to the pupils identified in Section 3 above.
  • The Special Education Teacher devises a programme of work in consultation with the class teacher.
  • Such plans address the pupils' full range of needs and include:

- details from the pupils' class teachers;
- assessment results;
- other relevant information e.g. reports from other agencies;
- learning strengths and attainments;
- priority learning needs;
- learning targets;
- class-based learning activities - where applicable
- supplementary support activities;
- home support activities;

  • Each child's progress is monitored through teacher observation, the keeping of planning and progress records and through children's own work - folders and reading records.
  • A review takes place at various intervals throughout the school year. This is based on standardised tests. The Special Education Teacher or the class teacher meets the parents to discuss their child's progress in the light of the review.
  • The Special Education Teacher maintains the following documentation in individualised files:

- individual profile and learning programme;
- other records of relevance;
- copies of NRIT and standardised tests results

  • A system of withdrawal operates in response to the needs of the individual pupil.

5. Procedures for Continuing/Discontinuing Pupils

  • Following each review as detailed in Section 4 above, a decision is made to continue/discontinue the provision of supplementary teaching.
  • The criteria on which this decision is based include:

- has the pupil achieved some/all of the learning targets set?
- will the pupil be able to cope independently/semi- independently in the classroom learning context?

  • The decision-making process involves consultation between the class teacher, the Special Education Teacher and the pupil's parents and account is also taken of the overall special educational demands in the school.
  • As stated previously all decisions will be taken following full consultation with parents.

6. Parental Involvement

  • Regular communication takes place between the Special Education Teacher and parents.
  • Specific work may be given to parents to assist them to work effectively with their child eg Speech and language worksheets, Forward Together programme for children who have failed MIST. This support is available from the Special Education Teacher.
  • The parents and Special Education Teacher meet formally and informally throughout the year to review the child's progress and provide support and advice on how best to help their child at home.

7. Referral to Out-of-School Agencies

  • We follow the continuum of support guidelines.
  • The Principal and Special Education Teacher discuss all relevant cases with NEPS psychologist, Mary Sherwin early in each school year. All test results are reviewed. Pupils are short listed for possible assessment based on this sharing of information. If a new case arises throughout the school year (ie new arrival) the principal will contact Mary Sherwin to arrange meeting.
  • The Principal, class teacher and Special Education Teacher co-ordinate the referral of pupils to outside agencies e.g. Education Psychologist.
  • The Principal and/or Special Education Teacher and/or Class Teacher meet with the parents to discuss the need for the referral and to seek consent.
  • The class teacher completes the necessary referral form in consultation with the appropriate school personnel.
  • The external professional, most likely NEPS Psychologist M Sherwin visits the school to meet with the pupil, parents, Principal, class teacher and Special Education Teacher (as appropriate) and the assessment is conducted.
  • This is followed by a return visit at which findings are discussed, recommendations are considered and an appropriate response is agreed.

8. Provision of Resources

  • Resources for the provision of special education teaching include a variety of textbooks, library books and ancillary materials and oral language programmes e.g.

1. Jigsaws (Alphabet Linked)
2. P.A.T. Phonological Awareness Training Pack 1
3. * Phonic Cards/Vowel Strips
4. Phonics - Resource Bank and Teachers Guide - Jill Gregory.
5. Stile Dyslexia and Stile Trays. Books 1-10.
6. * Prim Ed. The Big Book of Phonics
Early Bk of Phonics
(Series of 5 Bks)
7. * Alpha to Omega Stages 1,2 & 3
(Most activities from Word Shark based on same).
8. *Sequencing Mini Stories: Evan - Moor (USA)
Excellent for beginning story writing process
9. *New Treasury of English Workbook. Folens Bk 3
particularly for Comprehension, creative writing,
crosswords and grammar - senior level.
10. **Spelling Workshop. Education Company.
Units - comprised of everyday works, spelling patterns/phonics and dictation.
11. Wordshark, Numbershark.
12. * The Big A,B,C, Sound Sense Stories (Software)
13. * Ginn Series of Readers
Ginn 360 Levels 1-10
Ginn Pocket Books Levels 5,6,7 & 8
Approach/Trend Series - (Older
Children 10+ suitable reading for weak group)
14. Ashgate Spelling List
15. See list of tests attached
16. * Prim Ed Comprehension and Cloze procedure exercises (photo copiable)
17. Collection of Sequencing Activities forolder children 8+ ordering a story/structure (varied - photocopied from different sources).
18. Collection of Workbooks
19. Maths Equipment
20. Wide selection of library books which include:
o Panda Readers O'Brien Press
o Happy Families Series
o Sound Sense Series 1-A->10
o Usborne Flip/Flap Bks.
o Walker Read Together Books
o Oxford Treetops Series and Teaching Notes for Seniors
o Mentor Bks Selection of Novels for Senior Classes
o Ginn 360 Series Little Bks
21 CVC Cubes
CVC Word Building Mats
12 Pupil Guide Cards
22. Key Word Sentences
Books 1, 2 & 3.
23. Multiple Choice Comprehension Prim Ed.
24. Write about the Picture
Series 2 & 3. Easylearn.
25. Reading Roundabout
1 & 2 Easylearn.
26. Know How Series
Cloze Exercises for Juniors.
27. Oxford Reading Tree stages 4-9 with extension readers
28. Oxford phonics - Songbird series
29. High interest reading/non fiction - Remedia Publications
30. Oxford Treetops Novels

  • Special Education resources will primarily be used in the Special Education unit. These resources may be made available to class teachers following consultation with the Special Education Teacher.

9. Timetabling

  • The provision of Special Education Teacher is in addition to the regular class teaching in English and Maths (See page 10).
  • Effort is made to ensure that pupils do not miss out on the same curricular area each time they attend special education. A flexible approach to timetabling is adopted by class teachers while class disruption is minimised. The provision