Special Educational Needs (SEN)
Our SEN policy aims to foster and develop an all-inclusive learning environment in which all students, no matter what their difficulty, are enabled to experience success and to achieve their full potential within our school community.
Students with special educational needs include all those whose disabilities and/or circumstances prevent or hinder them from benefiting adequately from the education which is normally provided for students of the same age, or for whom the education which can generally be provided in the ordinary classroom is not sufficiently challenging.
Such students have special educational needs arising from their disabilities and/or circumstances and will require Special Education Provision to be made for them.
The Department of Education and Skills, following a submission by the school management, allocates resource hours. Such allocations are usually based on findings from a Psychological/ Educational report and related data provided by the school management. The granting of these hours is not based on intellectual ability. Generally, students who have a physical or medical difficulty, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger Syndrome (AS), Dyspraxia and some non-national students are awarded hours.
A teacher is usually assigned to each student and works with him individually or in a small group. The area of work that is carried out with each of these students depends totally on his needs e.g. social skills, organisation and subject work. The progress of the student(s) is monitored and evaluated.
Learning support is designed to help students with learning difficulties to achieve academic success in school. This support provides learning programmes for the students who have been assessed as low achieving. Such students will normally be performing at or below the 10th percentile on nationally standardised tests in English reading and/or mathematics. Our learning support team develops and implements an individual learning programme for each student based on an assessment of needs and a specification of learning targets for the student. A Learning support teacher works with groups of students as well as individuals. Programmes are drawn up and implemented collaboratively by the learning support teacher and parent. The area of work that is carried out with each of these students depends totally on their academic needs e.g. reading, comprehension, spelling, writing skills, study skills and mathematics.
The post-primary guidelines on the inclusion of students with special educational needs published by the DES outline the roles and functions of teaching staff in relation to including students with special educational needs. Resource and learning support teachers use a range of support models for students through one-to-one teaching, small group teaching and co-operative teaching. Resource and learning support teachers also contribute to the informal and formal assessment of students, monitor and track students with special educational needs, store and provide suitable access to students' records, process applications for reasonable accommodations in certificate examinations, liaise with visiting professionals, provide in-school consultation and professional support to mainstream colleagues and facilitate individualised planning. At St. Caimins, all teachers have a role in supporting inclusion.
Mainstream teachers create a supportive, caring environment for students with special educational needs and contribute to school development planning. Mainstream teachers also establish inclusive and supportive learning environments for all students through differentiated instruction and collaborating with resource/learning support teachers. Examples of differentiated instruction include assessment for learning, peer tutoring, concept mapping, heterogeneous grouping, co-operative learning, multi-sensory instruction, adapting questioning techniques to maximise student progress and providing individualised adaptations for students as appropriate.
Special Needs Assistants
The Special Needs Assistant works as part of the school team in supporting the child with special needs. They work very closely with the needy child whose quality of school experience can depend quite significantly on the support, knowledge and skills of the assistant. Moreover, they assist school authorities in making suitable provision for a student or students with special care needs arising from a disability.
Information on students with learning difficulties is available from the coordinator of special education needs. Some of the more common conditions which affect learning are listed in the document below together with some information which may be of use in teaching such students.