Enrolment Policy for Special Classes for Children with Autism


Enrolment Policy for Special Classes for Children with Autism

In May 2014, the teaching staff of O’Connell Primary School, under the guidance of Helen Walsh (SENO), drafted this policy in accordance with the provision of the Education Act 1998, the Education Welfare Act 2000, the Equal Statues Act 2000 and the Disabilities Act 2002. We envisaged that by doing so, Parents/Guardians will be assisted in all matters in relation to enrolment of their son.

General Information:

Name of School: O’Connell Primary School

School Address: North Richmond Street, Dublin 1

Telephone: 01-8557517

Email: principal@oconnellprimary.ie

Website: www.oconnellprimary.ie

Enrolment Information:

A child receives a medical diagnosis* specifying Autism. (*Assessment and classification of Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist using DSM-IV / V or ICD-10 criteria OR multi-disciplinary assessment of same by a professional team [including a clinical psychologist.]) Assessment must be completed by Department of Education and Skills approved psychiatrist or psychologist.

If a child presents with a general learning disability, it must fall within the mild range or above, (this diagnosis must also be made using a professionally recognised clinical and psychological assessment procedure.)

Parents/Guardians may contact the School and send a copy of their child’s psychological or multi-disciplinary assessment. If criteria are met the child’s name will be added to the waitlist.

All Relevant reports and assessments must be given to the school prior to the child enrolling. All reports must be recent and up to date within two years of application.

If a place becomes available, the Principal and other members of staff as part of an admissions committee* will meet with parents/guardians to discuss their child’s strengths and needs, as well as the enrolment alternatives.

The admissions committee reviews the psychological assessment of the child and any enrolment is subject to the approval of the said committee based on enrolment policy and the ability of the school to provide a suitable educational placement.

*The admissions committee is comprised of the Principal, ASD class teacher, and advice may be sought from the NEPs or Community Services Team. The Principal will advise the Board of Management on the placement of a child. The final decision as to the placement of a child in the Special Needs Class lies with the Board of Management.

The Board of Management reserves the right to refuse enrolment if they believe the school cannot meet the needs of a particular child. The Board also reserves the right to continue to enrol, suspend or expel a child under ‘Health & Safety’ regulations and in conjunction with the school ‘Code of Behaviour’ as per National Education Welfare document if the need arises.

Children with Autism must comply with criteria and acquire sanction from the admissions committee before enrolment.

Children must have access to on-going support from the appropriate services eg. Occupational Therapist, Psychological Services etc…

Parents are responsible for organising transport to and from school for children.

Based on the information provided at the initial meeting and reading of the report it will be decided if the school will be able to provide the most appropriate educational placement for the child through its ability to cater for the child’s needs. Due regard will also be given to the education of pupils already enrolled in the class.

Existing school, psychological, medical, speech/language, occupational therapy and other reports will be considered.

The Principal may also consult with the professionals who prepared reports on the child and the professionals with whom the school has an existing relationship before making a recommendation to parents regarding the perceived suitability, or otherwise, of enrolling the child in the special class.

Where parents/guardians choose to proceed with the special class option, the Principal shall make a report to the school’s Board of Management, with whom the final decision on enrolment rests. (The Principal may also recommend that the decision be deferred, pending the receipt of further information on the child.)

The special class will have a maximum of six places. It will be staffed by a registered teacher and by Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) (Minimum of 2 SNAs per 6 children.) The teacher and SNAs will have experience of, or an interest in, working with children with Autism. The teacher will receive ongoing specialist training through the Special Education Support Service (SESS) as necessary. Training is also available through Middletown Centre for Autism.

An eclectic approach will be used within the special class, that is, a wide range of teaching approaches (including those used in the school’s mainstream classes) will be employed, based on the individual needs of the children.

The nature of inclusion in mainstream classes will be determined by the school staff, in consultation with the child’s parent/guardian, with a view to maximising contact over time and with due consideration to the needs of all children.

All placements are subject to review at the request of the parents/guardians and the school. The review will include input from agencies involved, the parents/guardians and the school. Following the review a recommendation may be made that the child be enrolled in a school that can best meet his needs.

The first year will be used to assess the child’s educational needs, develop an IEP to address identified needs and to assess whether the child’s placement is appropriate.

Children must be seven years old before 1st September of the year of enrolment. Children must not be more than 13 years old during their final year in the school.

Assessment Criteria for Admissions to our Special Needs Class:

The assessment may involve meeting the parents/guardians and the child at the school, in their home or in their current education setting for observational assessment.

A child will be deemed eligible for an offer of placement when all of the following criteria have been met;

1. A child has a medical diagnosis* specifying Autism. (*Assessment and classification of Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist using DSM-IV / V or ICD-10 criteria OR multi-disciplinary assessment of same by a professional team [including a clinical psychologist.]) without significant intellectual impairment.

2. A recent recommendation (within 18 months of the proposed admission date) must be provided by the above professional indicating that a placement in a Special Needs Unit in a mainstream is warranted.

3. If a child also presents with a general learning disability, it must fall within the mild range or above, (this diagnosis must also be made using a professionally recognised clinical and psychological assessment procedure.)

4. The school have the staff and resources in place necessary to meet the special educational needs of the child.

5. The child is at least seven years old on or before September 1st prior to starting in the school and no older than twelve years old on September 1st on last year in the school.

6. The educational provision being given to the children currently enrolled in the Special Needs Unit program will not be detrimentally effected by the level of specialised intervention required for a new pupil.

The school reserves the right to refuse enrolment to any student where either;-

1. The child does not fit one or more of the criteria listed above.

2. The pupil has special needs such that even with additional resources available from the Department of Education & Skills and the Department of Health, the school cannot meet such needs and or provide the student with an appropriate education.

3. In the opinion of the Board of Management, the student poses an unacceptable risk to other students, to school staff or to school property.

Offer of Placement:

A child who has pre-enrolled will be offered a place if all of the assessment criteria described above are met.

Once all the assessment criteria are met places will be offered to a pupil

Firstly living in St. Agatha’s Parish or neighbouring parishes.

If this is not possible a place is then offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

A child may be phased in gradually to the Special Needs Class through a mutually agreed process between the school and the parents/guardians of the child.

O’Connell Primary reserves the right to review the child’s progress after six months to determine whether this is indeed an appropriate school placement for the child.

If the school cannot meet the required needs of a child or if a child does not meet the above criteria for placement in our Special Needs Unit classes, the following action will take place.

1. The school will notify, in writing, the parents/guardians of the rationale for the decision.

2. The school will notify The National Welfare Board and the National Council for Special Education, Department of Education of the decision and the requirements necessary for the school to meet the specified needs of the child.

Post Enrolment:

As recommended by the Task force on Autism (Government publication 2001) the Special Class will be a full-time placement for children with Autism. The Board of Management is concerned to ensure that a child’s placement is reviewed on a regular basis in order to ensure the placement continues to be appropriate. The maximum class size is six pupils. The teacher will use an eclectic approach to teaching. Inclusion in mainstream classes will be encouraged and facilitated when it is in the best interest of the child and with due regard to the educational benefits to all children in the school.

Taking into account the Department regulations and programmes, the rights of the patron as set out in the Education Act, and the funding available, the school supports the principles of:


Equality of access and participation in the school

Parental choice in relation to enrolment

Respect for diversity of values and beliefs

The Board of Management will not refuse a child on the basis of ethnicity, disability, traveller or refugee status, political beliefs or family or social circumstances provided they fulfil the enrolment criteria. Fulfilling enrolment criteria does not necessarily ensure enrolment if:

Necessary resources pertaining to enrolment are not available

Sufficient classroom space is not available

Taking all the above into account, and based on advise of the management team of the Special Class for children with Autism, the Board of Management reserves the right of admission.



This Policy was approved by the Board of Management on : 26 – 10 - 2016

Signed : __________________________________________________.