RMDS policy on the Management of Special Educational Needs
This policy on the management of Special Educational Needs (SEN) here in Ranelagh Multi Denominational School (RMDS) was updated in 2020 by the Special Education Teachers (SET), in consultation with the Board of Management and the staff. It draws from The Education Act (1998), Equal Status Act (2000), SESS Learning Support Guidelines (2000), The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) 2004 and other relevant Department of Education and Skills circulars, specifically, 0030/2014, Learning Support Guidelines (DES, 2019), Circular 00013/2017, 0008/2019, Guidelines for Primary Schools: 2017, National Educational Psychological Service NEPS special needs guidelines and all circulars relevant to the provision of SEN support within the school.
RMDS is committed to the fullest participation possible of all the children in the school in all aspects of school life - in the classroom, the playground and extra-curricular activities. RMDS is committed to a vision of child-centeredness which places the needs of each child at the centre of our learning community.
The ethos statement of this school is clear that all children, whatever their background, race, gender or abilities, are welcome in the school subject to that being in the best interests of the child and his or her peers. That position is protected by law and fits with the wishes of parents in general that their children should be educated locally, in a school of their choice. RMDS is committed to using best endeavour to manage the resources available to the school to help all the children in the school reach their full potential.
Thus the Admissions Policy of RMDS provides for equality of access and participation in the school for all children in our community, whatever their social, religious, cultural or racial backgrounds and whether or not they have a disability or special education need. See Admission Policy.
The aim of special education provision in RMDS is to enable pupils with SEN to achieve optimal levels of proficiency in all areas of the curriculum, in line with their ability and stage of development and to share with their peers as full an educational experience as possible. Through the implementation of this policy, we strive to:
The kinds of SENs catered for in mainstream schools are diverse and may include physical disability, hearing impairment, visual impairment, emotional disturbance and/or behavioural problems, general learning disability, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Specific Learning Disability, children with SENs arising from an assessed syndrome such as Down Syndrome, children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and certain medical conditions. Children who have been identified as exceptionally able (gifted) may also have SENs. Additional staffing (such as access to a SET and/or a Special Needs Assistant) and resources (such as funding for computers and software and other physical aids) as well as care supports may be provided to schools to help support children with SEN.
Some children come to school with an identified SEN and additional supports, including care supports, in place. For others, the process begins in school – this is particularly true of general learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural problems. Exceptionally able or gifted children may also fall into this category. The term exceptionally able or ‘gifted’ is used to describe students who have been identified as requiring enrichment and extension opportunities outside of the regular curriculum for their age group. This includes children who may display a gift or talent in a certain area, for example general intellectual ability or a specific academic, creative or sporting ability.
Another group of children may experience a temporary period of vulnerability following bereavement, family stress, bullying or for a variety of other reasons. The school must be responsive to these social, emotional and behavioural needs until they pass. Support is also available to children for whom English is not their first language. Certain children also benefit from an exemption from Gaeilge. See policy on exemption from Gaeilge.
In RMDS we operate a collaborative team approach. We see the child’s journey through the school as a process which involves input from everyone to one degree or another. We are committed to promoting partnership and collaboration between all the stakeholders in the school, staff, parents/guardians and pupils, the Board of Management, the Executive Committee (Patron body) and the Parents Association. In real terms this is evidenced through the following practices in RMDS:
An inclusive school is one in which the teaching and learning achievements, attitudes, and well being of every child matters. This expectation is explicit in the Learning Support Guidelines (DES, 2019)
Inclusive practice is a complex process that involves:
Our current allocation of resources to support this vision is as follows;
The allocation of both Special Education Support teachers and SNAs is subject to annual review by the Dept. of Education. 0008/2019
RMDS is committed to the idea of a supportive approach to learning. We aim to create a learning environment in the mainstream classroom to respond to the learning needs of all the children.
Early intervention is a vital component of the special education provision in this school, caseload permitting. Early intervention programmes may be provided by the class teacher and / or by the SET, in accordance with the Continuum of Support, as outlined in Circular 00013/2017. Close collaboration and consultation between the class teachers and the SET will identify pupils who may be in need of early intervention. Teacher observation and professional opinion, as well as diagnostic assessment will be given due consideration in the selection of pupils for early intervention.
This principle is included in order to ensure that we identify potential problems which may impinge on the child’s learning and development as early as possible. See Assessment policy.
Early intervention programmes may be provided by the class teacher and/or the SET in accordance with the Continuum of Support framework (NEPS Continuum).
Teacher observation and professional opinion will be given due consideration in the selection of children for early intervention programmes at Classroom Support / School Support level.
Early intervention programmes may include:
As the children progress, RMDS is committed to supporting all pupils throughout their school life.
Key supportive strategies include:
The SET team in consultation with the principal will have flexibility regarding whether all this time is spent individually with the pupil or in groups with other children with similar needs. The decision to group or pair children will depend on their individual needs, the compatibility of the curriculum and activity programmes, and whether or not the children are at a stage where they would benefit from such learning. Certain advantages to intensive one to one instruction include:
Following the completion of the standard testing programme in May, the principal meets with the special education team and the deputy principal to review and update the ‘class index’. Following this meeting, the SET consults with the class teachers to ensure that all children who need to be included are included. Consideration will be given to the following, in the allocation of available resources.
As places become available decisions will be made by the SET regarding their allocation. A list of all children for whom it is felt an Educational Assessment would be of value is drawn up each year and parents/guardians are informed. Children on this list are prioritised by the SET according to greatest need. They may choose to wait for the assessment to be completed under the school’s NEPS allocation or have the assessment completed privately.
Where parents/guardians are not agreeable to a diagnostic assessment at School Support or
a referral for professional consultation/assessment, a record of this will be taken in the log of actions. The class teacher continues to monitor the child’s progress over a period of time and if the issues continue to be of concern will make the same request again. If it is deemed appropriate, advice will be sought from NEPS and /or the NCSE.
In the case of pupils with emotional or behavioural difficulties, it is recognised that, with serious difficulties, more urgent action may be needed. In these cases the pupil’s needs are, with parents’/guardians’ permission, discussed with the relevant NEPS psychologist and/or the case is referred to the clinical services of the Health Services Executive. This may lead to a more detailed behavioural management programme to be implemented at home and in class, or to referral for further specialist assessment.
In the case of pupils identified at an early age as having very significant
special educational needs, intervention at school support plus will be necessary on their entry to school. Support in the classroom will be an essential component of any learning programme devised for such pupils, and primary responsibility for the pupil will remain with the class teacher, in consultation with the relevant SET.
Final decisions in relation to the selection of children for SEN support are made by the principal, in consultation with the SET, the class teacher and the parents/guardians. Priority is always given to those children with greatest need and decisions are made in light of the overall SEN caseload within the school at that particular time.
Prior to the child’s enrolment in the school, parents/guardians are advised to keep us updated on any emergent needs. When children have been offered a place in the school, parents/guardians are invited to complete a form and to send to the school any professional reports that may help the school to ensure the best possible provision for the child. The principal and the enrolment officer will normally present relevant information to the Board in order to ensure that the correct supports are in place and to ensure that we can meet our obligations to all children. The advice of the SENO will be sought where needed. Relevant applications in line with NCSE requirements for additional supports will be made. A visit to the school is normally arranged for all incoming pupils in June each year. Additional meetings may be arranged with the parents/guardians and other professionals supporting a child with special educational and /or care needs in order to ensure we are fully prepared to meet those needs.
The DES provides additional resources to schools to help to support the learning needs of such pupils. The eligibility of a child for additional support is determined by reference to relevant assessments (including teacher observation).
For children with emerging needs that have not been identified before the child is enrolled in the school, access to resources is determined within the school in the first instance by a process of consultation between the class teacher, the parents/guardians, the Principal and the special education team. The school also has access to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). This means that we can call on the services of an Education Psychologist for assessments, advice and support and review. School based intervention for children with emerging SEN follow the process outlined in circular 13/2017 and recommended by NEPS in their Continuum of Support documents.
If a class teacher or parent has concerns about the academic, physical, social or emotional development of a child, the class teacher will then construct where appropriate, a simple set of target(s) to be implemented, in the normal class setting. This stage also includes plans for exceptionally able or gifted children. In order to do this, each teacher will ensure that they are familiar with the draft guidelines for ‘Teachers for Exceptionally Able Students’ (NCCA, 2007).
Further targets may be added if the initial concerns are still present, then Stage 2 (School Support) is implemented.
Using a variety of assessments (including diagnostic tests and teacher observations) plans are drawn up in October and February, in collaboration with parents. An end of year review takes place in June and a draft plan for the new school year is drawn up for the incoming team to develop. On an informal level, regular evaluation and review are carried out through ongoing staff and parent contact. However, it may also be necessary to reconvene the team to carry out a more formal review of progress and to re-assess priority needs, particularly in the light of support services that may be available. It is envisaged that the child’s support plan would cater for priority needs and that the child would access the broad curriculum through their participation in normal classroom activities with their peers.
When a child is to receive supplementary teaching at School Support Level, the parents will be consulted. The planning meetings should involve all team members – for example, the SET, the class teacher, the parents and where appropriate, other personnel such as outside professionals and SNAs. The Class Teacher and the SET will then draw up a plan of appropriate learning outcomes for the child accessing support at stage 2, where possible the child should also contribute to his/her own support plan.
What will be included in the plan will depend on the priority needs identified. The plan is a working document that is regularly reviewed, changed and amended as needs dictate. The current template is included in the Appendices. Each plan is monitored through assessment, teacher observation, planning and progress records all of which are kept on file by the resource teacher responsible for drawing up the plan.
Where appropriate the school or parents may formally request a consultation from other professionals outside the school in respect of children who after supplementary teaching or the implementation of a behavioural, social or emotional programme, require further support. Such professional advice is sought from psychologists, speech therapists, audiologists, occupational therapists etc. Following the consultation, the class teacher, SET, parents and outside professional (if available) will each contribute to the support plan
for the child.
As mentioned in 6.2, plans are drawn up in October and February. An end of year review takes place in June and a draft plan for the new school year drawn up for the incoming team to develop. On an informal level, regular evaluation and review are carried out through regular staff and parental contact. The SET is responsible for organising, chairing the meeting, preparing the agenda and setting a time limit for the meeting. The team meeting should agree on the priority needs to be addressed, identify long term learning goals and decide on the implementation process of the plan. The plan should also outline the necessary resources and back-up services required for implementation. The SET is responsible for writing up the plan and ensuring it is signed by all participants in the meeting. The principal should be kept informed by the SEN teacher of the timetabling of these meetings and of the personnel attending.
In the case of children identified at an early age as having significant special educational needs, intervention at Stage 3 will be necessary on their entry to school.
Support in the classroom will be an essential component of any learning programme devised for such children and primary responsibility for the child will remain with the class teacher in consultation with the designated SET.
At RMDS, we encourage and welcome open communication between principal, teachers, parent(s)/guardian(s), SNAs, visiting teachers and outside professionals who engage with our children. See policy on communication with parents. In addition to the regular communication with all parent(s)/guardian(s), there are additional arrangements in place for communication with parents of children with SEN, as follows:
RMDS is committed to ensuring that effective channels of communication are maintained and developed with parents of pupils attending the school. This requires ongoing consideration and review.
RMDS sees the diary/digital diary as an opportunity to give the child who has a diagnosed communication need, a voice so that he/she can participate in class news /interactions.
Parental contributions to this are welcome and valued (e.g. Anne visited her cousins at the weekend/ A photo of swimming class at the weekend sent in by the parents/ going on a class trip tomorrow, need to bring extra lunch).
Where possible class teachers and SET are available from 8.30a.m. - 8.50a.m. to chat informally about day to day matters. Any communication around educational progress will take place at the formal meetings scheduled throughout the year. These include regular support plan meetings as well as the September class meeting and the November parent teacher meetings.
We consider the use of home-school diaries to be an important communication tool but also recognise that some children may grow out of the need for such a support as they progress through the school. In such instances we would discuss this together with you the parent(s) before any decision is made.
Planning and record keeping of the children’s progress in the areas that have been prioritized in the support plans / programmes are drawn up and shared securely online between the CT and the SET. These records are an important source of information for reporting to parents regarding their child’s progress. The SET maintains the following records in individual files:
These files are stored in the relevant SET room and securely online. Access is available to the class teacher, SET and the principal. Parents and other professionals working with the child may also access the file. See school policy on record keeping. The class teacher maintains the normal class records on pupils with SEN, similar to those maintained for all pupils.
Each class has a class index listing those who are receiving /received support.
The amount of time allocated to individual pupils receiving support is determined by the Principal and the SET team based on the needs of the pupil(s). This allocation of time includes planning, preparation and meetings. However, we try to maximise direct teaching time. The SET team in consultation with the principal will have flexibility regarding whether all this time is spent individually with the pupil or in groups with other children with similar needs. The decision to group or pair children will depend on their individual needs, the compatibility of the curriculum and activity programmes, and whether or not the children are at a stage where they would benefit from such learning..
It is important that children who are withdrawn from their classrooms do not regularly miss the same subject area as all children must be exposed to broad curriculum experiences. In particular children should not miss out on aspects of the curriculum where he/she is successful or which they particularly enjoy. Children in the senior classes with an exemption from Irish are prioritised for support during Gaeilge time. The SET may also work with pupils in their classroom alongside the class teacher. When finalised, copies of the timetable are made available to the principal, teacher(s) and the class teachers concerned.
All decisions must take account of the current overall level of support available in the school and adhere to the principle that those in greatest need must access the most help. Timetables must also be flexible enough to accommodate those children who may need support unexpectedly for short periods. Some collaboration and consultation time is timetabled; however, consultation between teachers generally takes place by agreement outside class time.
All support plans have a review date. Following consultation between the class teacher and SET, a decision is taken regarding future provision. This decision is based on:
Parents/guardians have a key role to play in working with the school to deliver an appropriate education to their child. This includes providing relevant information about the child to the school, participating in the support planning process and working with the staff and the child to implement and to review agreed programmes.
The class teacher:
See Section 3.4 of the Learning Support Guidelines
|Withdrawal||In class support|
Time and attention
Easy use of ICT
Similar ability groups
Continuity of learning
Interactive and engaging
Experiencing different teaching methodologies
The SNA assists in the support and successful integration of children with care needs arising from special needs. The general duties of SNAs are as outlined in DES circular 0030/2014
For a child to require or qualify for access to SNA support, a child must have an assessed disability. The care needs outlined must be of such significance that they are beyond that which would normally be expected to be provided to a child by the child’s class teacher, support teacher, or other school teachers, or beyond the level of assistance which could be offered to the student by his/ or her fellow pupils in school. The care needs must also be those beyond which could normally be provided for by alternative supportive approaches or modifications of the classroom environment, teaching approaches and/or assistive technology or specialist equipment.
The type of significant care needs that pupils may have can be varied, depending on the nature or level of the disability or sensory impairment that a child may have. Examples of primary care needs which would be considered significant – and which might require SNA support are:
The associated support tasks which may be carried out, but which would not in themselves normally constitute a reason for the allocation of SNA support include:
The care role of the SNA, in instances where SNA support is sanctioned to assist with behavioural related care needs, is concerned with assisting the teacher to meet the care needs of the child by:
Care support may also assist to ensure that students do not experience social isolation and exclusion due to an inability to communicate with staff members and peers.
There are additional support needs which children with hearing impairment require including the use of Sign Language/Lámh support in order to assist with communication and socialisation.
An index of resources available to the SET is available using the following link.
Members of staff are encouraged to attend relevant continuous professional development in the area of special education. Where professional development needs are identified (through discussion and review at staff meetings for example), an action plan is devised to ensure that needs are adequately addressed. Responses may include a staff day/staff development session, Croke Park training, engagement of external expertise or provision of additional resource materials. Where staff members attend a course, they are given the opportunities to report back at staff meetings. Regular training for SNAs is also provided within the school. In general, experienced teachers are assigned to special educational teaching duties. Special Education Teachers are encouraged and supported to undertake the Graduate Diploma in Inclusive Education, Learning Support and Special Education.
A key aspiration for pupils with SEN is that they will, on completion of their school-based education, be able to graduate as young independent adults, achieving their potential.
The success of this policy will be seen through:
Child Safeguarding Statement and Risk Assessment
Code of Behaviour
Anti - bullying policy
Policy on Manual Handling
Policy on Meeting Physical Needs including toileting
Data Protection policy
Staff training policy
Policy on Exemption from Gaeilge
This plan is currently implemented and will be regularly reviewed in light of school priorities and DES requirements.
This policy was ratified by RMDS Board of Management at its meeting of November 2020. It will be made available on the school website or copies can be obtained from the school office.
Will Connor Chairperson
Date: November 2020
Paul Fairbrother Acting Principal
Date: November 2020