Learning Support and Special Educational Needs Policy
Monagea School has 189 pupils, 7 class teachers, 4 SEN teachers
Beliefs and Principals:
The school community and the Board of Management, teachers and parents endeavor to help all of our pupils reach their personal best as stated in Our Mission Statement. We want to give all children a sense of self-worth and a value of themselves. A commitment to these principles results in a greater awareness of the individual learning needs of the pupils. It is vital to support pupils experiencing low achievements and learning difficulties and this can be done with early and continuing help from the learning support teacher, resource teacher and the wider school community.
Effective learning programmes are based on the following principles:
- Effective whole school policies and parental involvement
- Prevention of failure
- Provision of intensive early intervention
- Direction of resources towards pupils in greatest need
Aim (p. 14 LS Guidelines)
The principal aim of Learning Support and resource teaching is to optimise the teaching and learning process, in order to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy, before leaving Primary school.
The enrolment policy of the school governs enrolment of all pupils.
This policy is available to all staff and personnel.
This Policy provides practical guidance for teachers, parents and other interested parties on the provision of effective learning support to pupils experiencing low achievement and or learning difficulties as well as to fulfil our obligations under the Acts below;
Education Act (1998)
Education Welfare Act (2000)
The Equal Status Act (2000)
Disability Bill (2002)
E.P.S.E.N. Act (2004)
It is the policy of this school to include all children particularly those with special educational needs as a valued part of the school community.
The population of Special Ed pupils in school are as below
- Low incidence Sp. needs pupils
- High incidence Sp. Needs pupils
- International Pupils and Ethnic Minority Groups.
- Emotional/ Behavioural Needs pupils
- Gifted pupils
We do this by inclusion which has the following core principles:
- Early intervention.
- Suitable learning challenges.
- Responding to children’s diverse learning needs.
- Overcoming barriers to learning and assessment.
- Ensuring that all children gain access to a broad and balanced curriculum and have an equal
opportunity to receive an education that is appropriate to their needs.
Inclusive Practice :
- Buddy System: To enable the school to fulfil its policy with regard to the integration and inclusion of all pupils, a buddy system will be operated according to the needs arising. This is to establish a welcoming and tolerant attitude towards difference within the school community.
- To recognise that the SPHE programme can play a valuable role in supporting inclusiveness when effectively delivered to all pupils i.e. International Day
- Circle time will be used to integrate and include all pupils with Special needs.
- All pupils are entitled to their breaks and playtimes.
- The Health and Safety Policy, available to all members of staff, is applicable to all school staff and pupils. Should the question of the administration of Medication arise refer to the policy.
- The provision of Special Education Support may include withdrawal of pupils from their class and /or in class Tuition.
- Effort is made to ensure that pupils do not miss out on the same curricular area each time they are withdrawn for support.
- It is desirable to adopt a flexible approach to timetabling whilst at the same time ensuring that class disruption be minimised.
- Time for consultation and collaboration is essential for all personnel involved in Special Education Support. Whilst it is recognised that informal daily contact is of value, regular meetings will be arranged by organising relief for the class teacher to allow her to liaise with The Special Needs Teacher.
Low incidence category is provided for by being allocated resource hours.
Resource hours are given according to Dept of Education guidelines and this information is confirmed to the school by the S.E.N.O. The resource teachers then ensure that these pupils have access to resource teaching and suitable supports to enable them to access the curriculum at their individual ability level. Due to the nature of the diagnosis of difficulties provided for under this category the provision needs to be ongoing and consistent.
It will be regularly reviewed in consultation with all personnel.
Circular 24/03 (Allocation of Resources for pupils with Special Educational Needs in National School).
It maintained that an exclusive reliance on using resource hours for individual tuition only is contrary to the principle of integration in learning and teaching and advised that primary schools should deploy their allocated special education resources in a way that best accommodates the special needs of pupils. It is recommended, wherever possible, schools should provide additional teaching support for pupils in the mainstream classroom or special groups.
High incidence category is provided for under The General Allocation System.
Pupils will be identified by falling into one of the following groups;
- Pupils whose achievement is at or below 10th percentile in standarised reading or mathematical tests. Schools may exercise flexibility in the use of the Learning Support teacher provided the needs of the pupils below the 10th percentile are met.
- Pupils identified with mild learning difficulties – (see Special Education Circular 02/05).
- Pupils whose need arise for the high incidence disabilities (borderline mild general learning disabilitie and specific learning disability. See Special Education Circular 02/05 page 2, section 3).
Resources are also directed towards;
- Early intervention English/Maths
Infants – 2nd Class
- A.L. children
The duration of supplementary teaching should not exceed 2 to 3 years for the majority of pupils. Ongoing structured observation and assessment of the language, literacy and numerical skills of the pupils in the infant classes to facilitate the early identification of possible learning difficulties.
The implementation of a whole school programme to ensure the development of childrens’ literacy and mathematical skills is important.
Parents through their unique knowledge of their own children have much to contribute to their child’s learning programmes. Collaboration and sharing of relevant information between teachers and parents is of critical importance where children experience learning difficulties.
Categories of pupils with Special Needs:
International Students and Ethnic Minority Groups:
Our school welcomes pupils of all nationalities and cultures.
All children have an equal right to education. In order to fulfil this right, differences will be respected and valued. Our school will be pro-active in challenging racism. The school will promote an environment in which cultural differences can be explored and respected, where pupils can learn from each other, and where co-operative learning activities are employed across the curriculum.
- Overseas children, who have a need to learn the English Language before being able to access the curriculum, will avail of classes given by the Language support teachers.
- The DES allows two years of language support for each child. This is generally phased out gradually according to the pupils needs.
- The Buddy system will be used as a whole school system to help the child integrate and settle into their new environment.
Emotional and Bahavioural Needs:
These difficulties may arise due to various differing reasons. It would be important to identify the trigger to emotional trauma and behavioural difficulties.
- Positive attitudes are adopted and supported in working with these difficulties.
- Parents and other personnel are important and vital to supporting the staff in dealing with these difficulties.
- Expertise is acquired by staff being involved in courses and in-service training in Bahavioural Management strategies, i.e. Incredible Years Programmes, etc.
- Bahavioural Management Programmes are drawn up in collaboration with support teachers, class teachers, parents, pupils and where appropriate, the Principal.
Exceptional Ability/Gifted Pupils:
From the report of the Special Education Review Committee 1993,
Pupils who are exceptionally able or talented are those who have demonstrated their capacity to achieve high performance in one or more of the following areas:
- General intellectual ability
- Specific academic aptitude
- Creative or productive thinking
- Leadership ability
- Visual and performing arts
- Mechanical aptitude
- Psychomotor abilities, e.g. in athletics, football/hurling
A working definition in school, would say that children with ability at the 97th percentile
Levels in at least one area are seen as having special needs (Ed. Act 1998)
Gifted pupils may be identified by;
- Annual standarised tests
- Teacher observation
- Peer and Parent Appraisal
- Referral through other individuals or organisations.
Pupils who meet the criteria for exceptionally able (IQ of 130+) will be offered an augmented and differentiated curriculum and information will be available regarding the relevant outside agencies.
The class teacher and the learning support teacher will collaborate in order to deliver a differentiated curriculum. They will link with parents in order to pass on onformation regarding referral, assessment and programmes at CYTI (Irish Centre for Talented Youth) (Ref: Information from Irish Centre for Talented Youth D.C.U. – http://www.dcu.ie/ctyi) see appendix 1.
NCAA Publication Draft Guidelines for Teachers: Exceptionally Able Students 2007.
Classroom strategies used are as follows;
- By task
- By outcome
- By resource
- By support
- By dialogue
- By pace.
Identification and Assessment:
Pupils will be identified by one or more of the following methods;
- The procedure for identification of learning difficulties will be started by following the 3-stage assessment procedure as outlined by the Dept. of Education (ref: Special Educational Circular SP ED 02/05- appendix 3).
This would normally be initiated by the class teacher and/or parent following concerns about progress. Following this procedure, will result in the pupil being identified as having needs that are falling into either the high or low incidence category of learning difficultiy as defined by the Department of Education.
The Special Educational Needs Organiser determines what category of provision is suitable to the individual pupil.
- Speech and Language Therapists/Occupational Therapist/Paediatricians/Psychological services could be a referring agency.
Preliminary Screening for Learning Difficulties:
The first step in identifying pupils who may need learning support in English and Mathematics is to administer one or more screening measures. The main purpose of screening is to examine whole age groups in order to identify those children who appear to fall below a specified level of performance.
We have implemented a policy of early intervention. The M.I.S.T. screening test will be administered to senior infants in November. The results of the tests give an overall picture of the pupils’ performance and their learning strategies, which are related to early reading and writing. For example, the ability to listen and respond to short descriptions and stories, a knowledge of letter sounds and writing memory. The ability to write some words from memory, the ability to segment letter sounds in three-phoneme words and to write at least some of the letters in correct sequence. The test is administered by the learning support teacher/class teacher. The children are taken in groups to learning support room. The test takes 50-60 minutes to administer. Children are considered to be ‘at risk’ if they score below the cut off point in three or more subtests.
From 1st class onwards standarised tests can be used, e.g. Micra T and Sigma T/ Drumcondra Reading/Maths.
A pupil is selected for diagnostic assessment following screening procedures and consultation with class teacher. The learning support teacher will have access to a whole range of diagnostic tests and will proceed with the administration of these tests.
- The Neale Analysis assessment will be administered to a pupil if difficulties are identified in screening test.
- The Aston Index-Schonell: Graded word reading test is administered by the learning support teacher twice a year to identify the child’s reading age. The child is required to read aloud a series of graded words. The score is the total number of words read correctly. This will indicate to the learning support teacher, the reading age of the child.
- Jackson Phonics- is administered by the learning support teacher if they want to find out problematic phonetic areas. This test involves the reading of graded words.
- Informal Error Analysis in Maths
- Informal Error Analysis in Reading
Diagnostic tests are carried out to identify the areas in which the pupil has either particular strengths or learning difficulties. They will also assist the class teacher and learning support teacher in implementing a plan and completing an I.P.L.P (Individual Profile and Learning Programme).
Prevention Strategies and Parental Involvement:
Effective Whole-School Approaches/Prevention Strategies:
- A Print-rich school environment
- Consistent language in maths throughout all classes
- Consistent approach to learning spellings
- Shared reading programmes for parents and children throughout the school
- Use of library facilities is encouraged within school and outside of school
- Games that promote literacy and numeracy are used within the school
- Drop everything and read time
- Activities which promote self-esteem
- Use of the newspaper in the classroom (Especially special children’s supplements in the senior classes)
- Use of varied teaching strategies in the classroom
- Books on tape/taped version of some reading texts
- Use of ICT to support literacy and numeracy e.g. Numbershark, Wordshark,
Reading for Literacy, 3/4/5, Oxford Reading Tree, Lexia, Discover English, Computer Classroom, Maths Made Easy, etc.
Early Intervention Programmes:
- Early intervention is a vital component of the learning-support provision in this school, caseload permitting. Early intervention programmes may be provided by the class teacher and/or by the LS/RT.
- Close collaboration and consultation between the class teachers and the LS/RT, will identify pupils who may be in need of early intervention. Teacher observation and professional opinion will be given due consideration and respect in the selection of pupils for early intervention programmes.
- Intensive early intervention programmes in the early primary classes can be an effective response to meeting the needs of children with low achievements. These programmes will:
- Be set within a specific timeframe (13-20 weeks)
- Be based on a shared expectation of success by everyone involved
- Involve whole class/small group teaching or one-to-one teaching where whole class/small group teaching has not been effective
- Include a strong focus on oral language, laying the foundation for meaningful reading activities and further development of language and comprehension skills
- Emphasise the development of phonemic awareness and a range of other word identification skills
- Engage the pupils in frequent supervised oral and silent reading of texts at appropriate levels of difficulty and monitor their comprehension
- Stress the interconnected nature of listening, speaking, reading and writing
- Focus on language development in mathematics and in the development of mathematical procedures and concepts.
Prevention of Failure and Provision of Intensive Early Intervention:
All children in Junior Infants and Senior Infants are screened in order to identify children experiencing difficulties in learning.
The following screening measures are used:
- Enrolment form
- Input from parents
- Teacher designed tasks and tests
- M.I.S.T. screening test
Learning Support/Resource Teachers
The main role of the learning support/resource teachers will continue to provide supplementary teaching to pupils who have been identified and selected for learning support or resource teaching.
The learning support/resource teachers works closely with the principal teacher and class teachers to achieve the following;
- Give attention to the implementation of teaching programmes in the school which prevent learning difficulties i.e. oral language, phonic, writing and spelling programmes and promote whole school strategies together with class teachers to develop literacy, numeracy, language and behaviour.
The learning support and resource teachers work to support the class teachers and parents in providing for children with learning difficulties. They will also collaborate with teachers to develop an Individual Profile and Learning Programme or an Individual Education Plan, as appropriate, for each pupil who is selected for supplementary teaching, in consultations with parents and maintain a weekly planning and progress record or equivalent, for each individual in receipt of learning support.
They will endeavour to deliver intensive early intervention programmes, i.e. Literacy Lift Off and provide supplementary teaching in English and/or mathematics to pupils in the junior section of the school (Senior Infants-2nd Class), caseload permitting.
They will continue to provide teaching in English and/or mathematics to pupils in the senior section of the school who experience low achievement and/or learning difficulties.
Roles and Responsibilities:
The support of Special Needs Education pupils is a collaborative responsibility shared by all partners in the Learning experience. This will include Board of Management, S.E.N.O., Principal, Class Teacher, Special Needs Teachers and Parents.
Board of Management:
The Board will fulfil its statuary duties towards pupils with special needs. It will be knowledgeable about the schools S.E.N. provision i.e. funding, equipment and personnel.
The role of the principal is to;
- Assume responsibility for the development and implementation of the schools policy on Special Education Needs in co-operation with the Board of Management, teachers, parents and children.
- Liaise and work with Special Education Needs teachers.
- In consultation with the S.E.N.C.O. will liaise with the S.E.N.O. With regard to support hours and provision of support personnel and resources.
The class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in his/her class including those selected for supplementary teaching.
The class teacher also has responsibility;
- To initiate the three stage process in identifying and assessing a potential pupil for special education resource.
The initial stage of this process involves an implementation of an I.E.P. drawn up by the class teacher (See Special Education Circular SP ED 02/05 and sheet Staged Approach-appendix 3).
- To acquire knowledge of the educational difficulties of their pupils in collaboration with the support teacher to enable them to integrate and differentiate the curriculum for those with Special Ed. Needs.
- To establish a support network between the class, L.T./R.T. teachers in implementing the programmes.
- For the drawing up and implementation of I.E.P.
- To be involved in the collaboration between outside professional agencies and parents in supporting this I.E.P.
Learning Support/Resource Teachers:
The responsibilities of the learning support/resource teachers are;
- To contribute to the three stage process of assessment with the class teacher.
STAGE TWO of the process, an I.E.P. drawn up by the Special Needs Teacher in collaboration with the class teacher/parents/other personnel.
STAGE THREE. The support teacher working with the pupils after formal consultation and assessment will be involved in drawing up and implementing an I.E.P. in collaboration with other personnel and the class teacher.
The role of the parent is vital in the success of support for pupils with special needs. Parents contribute by;
- Regular communication with the class teacher and support teacher.
- Fostering a positive attitude about schools and learning in the child.
- To encourage and support homework tasks.
Collaboration with outside Agencies:
These agencies could include any combination of the following;
- Speech and Language Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- H.S.E. personnel
- Doctors and Psychiatrists
- Any other personnel involved with the individual child.
The school will facilitate and coordinate work with any of the personnel defined above, in order to establish the specific needs of and necessary resources for the pupil.
It is recognised that these agencies can deliver valued expertise and advice regarding the many and varied needs arising for the pupils.
The teacher will be in a position to coordinate this information and translate it into a consistent and practical application through the curriculum.
- Transition between the various Special Education services within the school will be based on the assessment of the individual pupil needs following regular reviews and consultation between all personnel.
Pupils with special needs may need extra support at this time as it is recognised that it could be a time of anxiety and change.
Special needs teachers and class teachers, parents, S.E.N.O. and other relevant professionals involved with a pupil will all be involved in the transition programme.
Meetings will be set up in accordance with school procedure with the second level school teachers to discuss the pupil needs and to enable ease of transition.
Facilities and Resources:
- Resources included a variety of textbooks, reading schemes, library books, oral language development materials, I.T. programmes and varied ancillary materials.
- Assessment and Diagnostic Testing materials are also available.
- Learning support materials will primarily be used in the learning support rooms. These resources may be made available to the class teachers following consultation with the special needs teacher.
A comprehensive review of the school plan dealing with learning support/resource teaching should take place every two to three years.
This policy was ratified by The Board of Management on 16/10/2014
Chairperson Board of Management