Special Educational Needs Policy
At Roscommon Community College we strive to continuously create and maintain, within the school a protective caring atmosphere in which each student can develop to his/her full potential. As education is about the whole person for life, we are concerned not only with academic success but also with the social, physical and moral development of the individual.
Aims and Objectives
As set out in The Education Act 1998, The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and The Equal Status Acts 2000-2004 Roscommon Community College aims to:
- Give practical effect to the constitutional rights of children who have a disability or who have other special educational needs, as they relate to education.
- Provide, as far as is practical and having regard to the resources available, a level and quality of education appropriate to the needs and abilities of all students in the school.
- Ensure that students with special educational needs are educated in an inclusive environment, as far as possible.
- Affirm that students with special educational needs have the same right to avail of, and benefit from education as students who do not have those needs.
- Provide for the involvement of parents in the education of their children and in the decision making process in relation to their children.
- Co-operate and work closely with the National Council for Special Educational Needs (NCSE) and other agencies with regard to the education of students with special educational needs.
- Ensure that students with special educational needs are identified and provided for in a fair and equitable manner so that their learning potential and their sense of self worth and dignity is developed and respected.
- Ensure that all members of staff are aware of the special educational needs of students and of the contribution they can make in this area.
- Ensure that special educational needs are not viewed in isolation, but in the context of the whole school and community.
- Ensure that students with special educational needs are offered a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum and that they are provided for in an inclusive way.
- Set high standards for students with special educational needs and provide them with appropriate guidance, encouraging them to achieve to their full potential.
- Develop staff expertise in supporting students with special educational needs.
- Encourage and foster positive partnerships with parents, in order to achieve appropriate support at home and at home.
- Co-ordinate the advice, guidance and support of other agencies in supporting students with special educational needs.
- Ensure the effective and efficient use of resources.
- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of practice in support of students with special educational needs.
Scope of the Policy
This policy applies to all students attending Roscommon Community College and who have special educational needs. It is also intended to serve the school community including B.O.M. the principal, staff and parents.
The Legal Context
This policy is drafted in the context of the specific provisions and definitions with regard to children with disabilities and special educational needs, the statutory requirements placed on schools and Boards of Managements by:
- The Education Act 1998
- The Education (Welfare) Act 2000
- The Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004
- The Equal Status Acts 2000-2004
This policy is drafted in the context of Circular Letters as outlined below:
This policy is drafted in the context of guidelines published by the Special Educational Needs Support Service.
This policy is drafted in consideration of the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill2003 as well as guidelines on Individual Education Plan Process 2006.
School Details & Organisation
Roscommon Community College strives to create an inclusive learning environment
where the needs of all students are catered for. The school offers a broad and balanced curriculum at both Junior and Senior cycle. We also offer a FETAC Level 1, 2 & 3 programme of study for students whose level of intellectual disability prohibits them from fully engaging with and benefitting from a Junior or Leaving Cert curriculum. This programme is called ‘Learning for Life’. The learner profile for this programme is as follows:
- Students with a moderate/severe learning disability.
- Students with a co-morbid diagnosis (multiply disabilities) to such a degree that they may not benefit from a mainstream setting.
- Students on the Autistic spectrum and have an intellectual disability.
The placing of students in an appropriate learning environment is very carefully considered. It is only done in collaboration with the student, their parents, school management, outside professional’s e.g. NEPS/Brothers of Charity, the learning support teacher, other staff members and the child’s primary school if appropriate. We offer these students a programme of work at a level appropriate to them in an inclusive environment with an opportunity to gain certified recognition for their work.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Board of management
The board of management has the responsibility for overseeing the development, implementation and review of school policies and services in relation to the inclusion of students with special educational needs. The board of management will arrange for the publication and review of the school policy on the education of students with special educational needs. Arrange for periodic reviews of the range of curriculum provision within the school to ensure that suitable programmes are on offer to all students, including those with special educational needs. The board of management will ensure that reasonable accommodations are made within the school for students with special educational needs. They will contribute to the development of awareness among teachers, non-teaching staff members and students of the needs of students with additional needs and of their particular responsibilities for the inclusion of these students in the school. They will provide support for in-career development opportunities for teachers in special educational needs.
The board should ensure that school staff and parents’ representatives are consulted in relation to decisions, policies and procedures for the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs.
The Board of Management and parents.
It is the responsibility of the board of management to ensure that the rights of parents as prescribed in legislation, including the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004), and as informed by good practise are upheld in the school. Whole-school policies and practices should be established to ensure that the parents of students with special educational needs are informed about their child’s educational needs and how those needs are being addressed in the school. Parents should be provided with opportunities to participate in decisions affecting their child’s education.
The Board of management and the NCSE.
The board of management, in co-operation with the school staff and in accordance with school policies and procedures, should co-operate to the greatest extent practicable with the National Council for Special Education in relation to: the inclusive education of students with special educational needs and specifically with regard to the arrangements for the placement of individual students with special educational needs in the school. The transfer of students with special educational needs to and from the school. The assessment and diagnosis of students with special educational needs. The development, implementation and review of individual education plans for students with special educational needs, the establishment of special classes or units for groups of students within particular categories of special education.
Under current legislation the principal of the school has the overall responsibility for ensuring that the special educational needs of students are met. Therefore the principal has the general responsibility for establishing and promoting whole-school policies and procedures that are supportive of the learning of all students, including those with special educational needs. In order to discharge his responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner, the principal will:
- Work with the board of management, teachers and parents in the development, implementation and review of whole-school policies that promote the inclusion of students with special educational needs.
- Ensure that all such policies are described in the school plan.
- Consult and liaise, as required with relevant external bodies and agencies, such as the Department of Education and Science, the National Educational Psychological service, the National Council for Special education, the Health Service Executive and local agencies.
The Principal and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator
The principal has established a special educational needs support team within the school to assist in providing an effective and holistic response to students’ needs throughout the curriculum. The principal may delegate the performance of specific responsibilities to other staff members; including members of the special educational needs support team. A member of the special educational needs support team have been assigned the responsibility for co-ordinating provision for special educational needs within the school. The school educational needs co-ordinator liaises with the principal and the special educational needs support team.
The Principal and the Enrollment and Transfer of Students with Special Educational Needs.
The principal ensures that procedures exist for consultation with feeder primary schools with regard to the enrolment of new students with educational needs.
The principal oversees the adoption and implementation of suitable whole-school policies and practises in relation to the education of students with special educational needs, including the implementation of a staged approach to the identification and assessment of students with special educational needs.
The principal ensures that mainstream teachers are aware of their responsibilities in relation to the education of students with special educational needs. The principal facilitates the creation within mainstream classes of an inclusive environment for such students by making available appropriate information to mainstream teachers. Mainstream teachers may also require advice and training opportunities to enable them to address the individual needs of these students.
The Principal and Parents
The principal promotes the involvement of parents with special educational needs by ensuring that whole-school procedures are established to facilitate the effective involvement of parents in their child’s education.
Parents are invited to share information regarding their children’s special educational needs and are consulted about how this information should be used in the best interests of their child.
Mainstream teachers have a key role in bringing about the successful inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Unless there is a very good reason for withholding certain information, mainstream teachers have access to all information that is likely to be relevant to teaching or supervising a student with special educational needs, including psychological reports and other confidential documents.
The mainstream teacher has the responsibility for ensuring that all students, including those with special educational needs, are provided with a learning programme and environment that enables them to gain access to the curriculum and to advance their learning.
Mainstream teachers have a key role to play in identifying students who may be at risk and for drawing attention of the SEN team to such students.
Mainstream teachers make critical contribution through the creation of a supportive, caring environment in the school for all students and those with special educational needs.
Teaching is differentiated, in so far as is possible, in order to meet individual needs. In planning for this, the mainstream teacher can collaborate with members of the learning support staff. Mainstream teachers consider the needs of students with special educational needs when selecting textbooks, planning and teaching lessons, setting homework, and formulating weekly or end-of-term tests.
The mainstream teachers keep parents informed of the progress of all students through regular parent-teacher meetings, journals and school reports.
Differentiation in the Mainstream Class
Differentiated learning is a means by which teachers can establish in their classrooms an inclusive and supported learning environment for all students. The term refers to the ways that teachers take into account the differences among their students in relation to ability, aptitude, interests and experience.
Differentiated learning refers to the wide range of strategies techniques, and approaches that are used to support learning and help every student to achieve and to realise his or her potential.
It is a way to promote greater access to the curriculum for all students, including those with additional learning needs. Differentiated learning acknowledges that students learn at different rates and in different ways. Learning can be differentiated, for example, in relation to the level of difficulty of the subject matter, the style of the presentation of the class, the pace of the lesson, the lesson structure, the type of questioning, the sequence of learning activities to be undertaken and the degree of access to additional teaching support for an individual student.
With regard to differentiation for students with special educational needs, the following general approaches are suggested:
- Providing learning activities and resources that are suitably challenging and are also likely to result in success.
- Modify presentation and questioning techniques in order to maximise the involvement of students with special educational needs.
- Place an emphasis on oral language development
- Promote literacy on a daily basis using word walls, keyword journals and key concepts.
- Relate the topic to the learner’s life experiences and environment.
- Use group teaching to facilitate the involvement of students with special educational needs.
- Identify areas of concern to the resource/learning support teacher for a follow up activity.
Differentiated learning is about personalised instruction and using a balanced range of strategies, techniques, and approaches so that all students gain benefit from the education that is provided.
The Special Needs Co-ordinator
The special needs co-ordinator liaises with the principal and the special educational needs support team. She assumes responsibility for co-ordinating the school’s provision for students with special educational needs. The role involves:
- Assuming responsibility for co-ordinating the school’s provision for the inclusion of students with special educational needs.
- Assisting in programme planning for students with special educational needs, and as appropriate advice teachers on the selection of students for whom additional teaching support is to be provided.
- Organise the provision of additional support for such students.
- The selection, purchase and maintenance of teaching and learning resources.
- Liaising with other support personnel and external professionals and agencies, including the co-ordination of applications to the Department of Education and Science, NCSE, NEPS, SESS, the HSE and other education and health agencies, as appropriate, for resources and support services for students with special educational needs.
- Manage the storage of and access to reports and records on students with psychological reports.
- Assessing the learning progress of students with special educational needs both formally and informally and address concerns of mainstream teachers regarding other students in their classrooms.
- Facilitate the arrangement of psychological or other assessment as appropriate, and after consultation with parents, of students who are suspected of having additional learning needs.
- Make all necessary applications regarding reasonable accommodation at Junior and Senior level.
- Arrange meetings with parents regarding their child’s progress.
- Consult with and seek advice from the guidance counsellor, schools completions programme and home school community liaison team regarding the transfer of students with special educational needs to third level education or further training.
The Learning Support Teacher
Their role is to provide additional teaching support to students with low achievement in literacy or mathematics and to those with high incidence (common) difficulties.
The selection of students for whom additional teaching support is to be provided is agreed by the special needs co-ordinator, the principal and mainstream teachers.
The core task of the resource teacher is the teaching of students with special educational needs, be it one-to-one, in small groups, in special classes, or through co-operative teaching with colleagues.
The Role of the Special Needs Assistant
Special needs assistants (S.N.A’s) are allocated to post-primary schools to provide care assistance to named students who have special educational needs. They are recruited specifically to assist the school in providing the necessary non-teaching services to students with assessed special needs. The allocation of posts to the school is reviewed each year.
Special needs assistants may be appointed for the care of students with assessed special educational needs who have, for example, a significant medical condition or a significant impairment of physical or sensory function, or on behalf of students whose behaviour is such that they are a danger to themselves or others.
Clear directions and support should be given to the S.N.As from the principal in relation to the duties they are expected to carry out.
They should work closely with teachers in providing assistance to students with special educational needs, for example, in areas of personal care, supporting mobility, or supervising practical or recreational activities.
Special needs assistants normally carry out their work on the school premises. However on occasions when students with special educational needs are required to attend a venue outside the school, the S.N.A may be assigned to provide assistance in the other setting and to accompany them as they travel to and from the event.
Special needs assistants are expected to treat all matters relating to school business and their work in the school as strictly confidential.
The duties of the S.N.A’s are assigned and supervised by the principal, acting on behalf of the board of management. They include duties of a non-teaching nature such as:
- The preparation and tidying up of classrooms.
- Travel as escorts during school hours on school buses nay be required.
- Special assistance as necessary for children with particular difficulties e.g. helping with typing, writing, computers and other equipment when necessary.
- Assistance with clothing, feeding, toileting and general hygiene and being mindful of the health and safety of the child.
- Assisting on out-of-school visits, walks and similar activities.
- Assisting teachers in the supervision of pupils during assembly, recreation and dispersal from the classroom.
- General assistance to the class teacher, under the direction of the principal with duties of a non-teaching nature.( S.N.A’s may not act as either substitute or temporary teachers)
- Participate with school development planning, where appropriate, and co-operation with any such changes and policies and practises arising from school development process.
- Engage with parents in formal and informal settings if required.
- Other duties appropriate to the post as directed by the principal when special needs students are absent or when urgent business arises.
Where a special needs assistant is assigned to a particular student in post-primary school, the need to assist the student should be carefully balanced with the students need to develop independent life and academic skills. Care should be taken to ensure that the deployment of an S.N.A to a particular student does not serve to segregate the student from their classmates or to increase their level of dependence.
Parents and the Transition fromPrimary School
The quality of a child’s experience in making the transition to post-primary school can be a determinant of how well they will settle in school. Parents can provide the valuable support to a child with special educational needs while their child is making the transition. The provision within the school of advice for parents of first year can make a positive contribution to helping them provide positive support to their child.
Parents and the Transmission of Information
The parents of a child with special educational needs can provide valuable information to the school in relation to their child’s learning difficulties, learning differences and learning preferences.
The special needs co-ordinator will meet with parents and primary school teachers of students with special educational needs in the months prior to the transition to provide support and gather as much information on each student as possible. This information will be used to guide teaches in their planning, enrich individual learning plans and overall enable us to make the child’s transition to Roscommon Community College as stress free as possible.
Parents and Home-school Links
Roscommon Community College provides parents with regular reports on the progress of their child. Parents can contact the special needs co-ordinator if they have any concerns regarding their child’s progress throughout the year.
The Guidance Counsellor
The guidance counsellor is a core member of the special needs support team and assists the members of this team in facilitating the provision of education for students with special educational needs.
Individualised guidance and support for such students and involving their parents as required are part of the support structure of the school.
The guidance counsellor ensures that counselling and guidance for students with special educational needs, in accordance with their needs, are included in the school guidance plan.
The guidance counsellor has an important role to play in assisting students with special educational needs at the different stages of schooling and assisting them in making career choices.
The guidance counsellor assists with arrangements for the successful transfer of students to the post-primary school and in gathering information about students, including information about students with special educational needs, before their transfer from the primary or special school. The guidance counsellor also collaborates in the assessment process with other staff members, such as year heads, the resource teacher and the learning-support teacher. The guidance counsellor also assists in making other teachers aware of relevant information about special educational needs and can advise these students and their parents as they progress through school.
International Students with Special Educational Needs
The school through its normal operating procedures ensure that adequate additional teaching and resource support is applied for and allocated as per the policies of Roscommon Community.
Individual Education Plans
Roscommon Community College will follow the DES post-primary guidelines for planning.
The Identification of Students with Special educational Needs
Parents are asked to submit details of any additional learning needs when submitting an application form for enrolment. The special needs co-ordinator will follow up by contacting parents and visiting primary schools of incoming first years with assessed needs.
Mainstream teachers will flag concerns of a learning difficulty to the special needs team as and when they arise.
The results of entrance examinations are used by Roscommon Community College to inform teachers of student’s general ability and are used to identify students who may struggle with the increased demands of post-primary school.
The special needs co-ordinator will apply to the DES for additional resources on behalf of individual students on receipt of all relevant documentation.
Exceptionally Able/Gifted Students
Roscommon Community College is committed to providing for the particular needs of our exceptionally able students. The school has in place accurate assessment systems, flexible planning and provision, pastoral supports and monitoring strategies. Mainstream teacher will also differentiate for the needs of these students.
Working with Other Agencies
Roscommon Community College is committed to working with the following agencies in order to provide a high quality service to families and schools:
- The Department of Education and Science
- The National Council for Special Education
- The National Educational Psychological Service
- The Special Education Support Service
- The Educational Welfare Board
- Local primary schools
- Social Services
- General Practiconers
- Health Boards
- Juvenile Liaison Officer
- The Dyslexia Association of Ireland