SEN Policy

Whole School Policy for Special Educational Needs

Ainm na scoile: Scoil Uí Chonaill

Uimhir Rolla: 1788G


O'Connell's Boys Primary School is a north Dublin inner city school situated in the parish of St. Agatha, North William Street. Currently there are approximately 160 pupils attending from 2nd to 6th class inclusive each year.We have 9 classroom teachers, an administrative principal, HSCL, Support teacher, language support teacher a learning support teacher and 4 resource teachers. O'Connell Boys, a designated disadvantaged school, and is included in many initiatives to tackle disadvantage, including DEIS and School Completion Programmes. Our pupil cohort includes around 37.5% Foreign National students. This has long been known as an area of high unemployment, huge social problems and low literacy levels. Education is often not seen by many as a priority.

Belief Statements:

It is our belief that the provision of a coordinated approach to the delivery of services to all our pupils, particularly those with special needs represents the best way forward. All partners in education - parents, teachers, BOM and support services work together in the interest of all our pupils.

Rationale: This policy was devised in 2010

• because existing policies were in need of review

• to assist parents in making an informed decision in relation to the enrolment of Their child in our school

• to comply with legislation and department circulars, etc.

• to have a clear and consistent approach to the enrolment of children with special needs in the school

• to preserve the characteristic ethos of the school, i.e. to serve all of the children in our school to the best of our ability and to welcome our most challenged children whose presence in our school will enrich the whole school community


The aim of learning support is to optimize the teaching and learning process so as to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy before leaving primary school within the limits of their potential.

Pupils with learning difficulties would include any challenge to teaching represented by a pupil, which might prevent that pupil or his peers from reaching their full potential.

This includes

• pupils with a physical disability

• pupils with an intellectual/learning disability

• pupils with emotional/behavioural/social difficulties

• pupils whose first language is not English

• pupils whose ability is well above that of their peers

As a school our aim is to:

• to give equal opportunities to all our pupils

• to develop the full potential of the child

• to promote an educational climate in which no child will leave our school without learning difficulties being detected

• to foster a positive teaching and learning environment for all pupils

• to develop a whole-school approach to dealing with pupils with behavioural problems

• to make the integration of pupils with special needs into the mainstream class a priority

• to outline procedures and practices to be followed in relation to pupils with special needs

• to establish communication structures for the involvement of parents of pupils with special needs

Staff Roles and responsibilities:

Board of Management

The Board of Management has an important role in developing, supporting and monitoring school policy on learning support and special needs. The Board of Management will:

• oversee the development, implementation and review of school policy on learning support. If the school shares the services of alearning-support / resource teacher with other schools, the Board should ensure that the school policy, as outlined in the school plan, is in line with agreed policy covering the provision of learning support across all the schools in the cluster;

• oversee the development, implementation and review of school policy on special needs services in general;

• ensure that adequate classroom accommodation and teaching resources are provided for the learning-support / resource teacher;

• provide a secure facility for storage of records relating to pupils in receipt of special needs and learning-support services.


The principal coordinates learning support and assumes overall responsibility for the implementation of the policy.

Among his activities will be to

• Support teachers and parents to cater for the needs of pupils with special needs

• Be part of the Special Needs Team

• Correspond with DES and NEPS in relation to assessments

• Liaise with outside agencies such as Speech Therapists in relation to resource provision

• Liaise with Special Schools as required

• Liaise with the Mater Child Guidance clinic (CAMHS) in relation to pupils whose behaviour is particularly challenging

• Will apply for psychological assessment for pupils identified by the Special Needs Team

• Apply to the DES for resources as required

Teaching Staff - class teachers and support staff

Class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in his or her class.

Teaching staff will:

• Identify pupils with special needs

• Discuss pupils' needs at Special Needs Team meetings

• Ensure that these pupils are included in all suitable class activities

• Decide what type/level of support is needed

• Assist in drawing up appropriate programmes to meet pupils' needs

• Decide on the appropriate personnel to give the support

• Conduct an ongoing review and evaluation of special needs provision

• Liaise with the Special Needs Co-ordinator to record and track those pupils receiving support

It is part of the role of the teaching staff to facilitate parents to:

• Communicate with those teachers involved in the provision of special educational supports for the child

• Work in conjunction with teachers especially with regard to Individual Education Plans developed for the child

• Identify and appreciate the special needs of the child

• Work fully with teachers as partners in their child's learning

• Play their part at home in helping their child

• Give permission for their child to be assessed by an educational or clinical psychologist if this is necessary

SNAs will

• Work under the direction of the class teacher who plans lessons and directs learning, whether in the whole class situation or on his/her own with a small group of pupils or an individual

• Be made fully aware of pupils' Special Education Needs and what they entail

• Be given relevant information on the needs and attainments of the assigned pupil(s) and on the special educational provision being made

• Be afforded the opportunity to attend Support Team meetings which relate to the pupils to whom they are assigned and encouraged to share information gleaned through their work with pupils

• Be encouraged where appropriate to make contributions to lEPs

• Provide support for the pupil(s) to whom they are assigned, the teacher, the curriculum and the and the school

• Help the child/children with a disability to work in the company of other children in order to facilitate inclusion

• Carry out a number of routine tasks such as escorting groups of children to work areas outside the classroom, preparation and tidying up of classrooms

• Support teaching strategies to help give pupils access to all areas of the curriculum, including PE and IT

• Accompany pupils to whom they are assigned on school outings, swimming, etc. with the approval of the Principal, under the supervision and guidance of the class teacher or another designated teacher

• Work as part of a team which is involved in translating policy into practice in order to further the aims of the school

• Work under the direction of the Principal in carrying out duties of a non-teaching nature

Home School Community Coordinator – (HSCLC)

• Liaise regularly with class teachers in relation to pupils with special needs

• Visit the homes of these pupils to facilitate communication between parents and teachers

• Invite parents of pupils with special needs to the school in order to keep them close to their child's learning

• Facilitate such meetings by supervising the class in question if this is appropriate

• Build bonds of trust with parents of pupils with special needs in order to promote open and productive communication between parents and teachers for the benefit of the child

• Visit local junior schools as a means of early identification of applicants with special needs

• Note parental concerns expressed on these visits

• Advise the principal/class teacher of these concerns in advance of enrolment

Strategies & Parental Involvement.

In the school we have a number of strategies to assist pupils with learning difficulties. These include:

· Shared Reading between 2nd and 6th classes

· each pupil has four Book Club books per week based on their reading level

· Maths Recovery in 2nd and 3rd class

· Pupils receive individual Tables targets which are assessed termly using the Ballard and Westwood one minute tables test.

· Book Fairs every March to coincide with World Book Day

Early Intervention Strategies:

Close liaison with feeder schools and coordination with them in terms of SNA provision, early testing, etc. This is an area facilitated by the HSCLC. Transfer programmes take place for students with ASD to ease transition to the senior school.

Identification of children needing learning support / resource teaching.

Preliminary Screening

• Children enrolling in 2nd class in September: - Assessments based on reports from previous schools and HSCLC including test results if any. Individual screening in oral language and reading followed up by maths test for class based on 1st class work.

• Pupils enrolling in other classes on or after September will be assessed similarly using standarised tests and checklists as appropriate.

• Teacher observation on a continuous basis up through school.

Diagnostic Assessment:

Early in the 1st term, 2nd and 5th classes undertake the NNRIT, the Drumcondra Spelling Test is completed in all class levels in November, while Sigma-T and Micra-T are administered to all classes in May. Priority is given to children scoring at or below the 20th percentile in English and Maths for learning support / resource support. The Ballard and Westwood one minute tables tests are administered to all classes on a termly basis.

The judgement of class teacher as to whether or not this score represents a pupil's true performance will be taken into account. Where class teacher, support teacher and principal feel that a child is suffering significant problems parents will be contacted to discuss an application for a psychological report. Currently this cost is being met by support from NEPS. A child identified as suffering serious learning difficulties will be supported throughout their time in school - resources permitting.

Children identified by class teachers or through testing as performing at a very high level will also be provided with additional teaching and/or activities where possible.

Learning Support / Resource Teaching:

Planning, Implementation, Monitoring and Review

Pupils identified as needing support will be offered additional support in English and Maths and/or other subjects as needs dictate. September will be used to collect and evaluate information on pupils. The remaining school year will be divided into 3 terms of approximately 12 weeks - Christmas, Easter, and summer. IEP's / GEP’s will be drawn up for pupils at the beginning of each period in consultation with class teachers, support teachers, sna’s and parents where possible. Review will take place at the end of each IEP /GEP period. Time will be set aside for consultation with the class teacher and parent/guardian if available to review and plan for further resource /learning support teaching if necessary. A flexible approach to timetabling will be encouraged. Decisions re timetabling will be decided in consultation with class teachers each September. The aim will be to ensure the minimum disruption to classes while ensuring adequate provision for children being offered additional support. A strategy for effective classroom intervention by learning support / resource teachers will be developed with the cooperation of all staff. This will include in class support during literacy daily and numeracy lessons where possible, with Maths Recovery sessions taking place in 2nd and 3rd classes. Classroom consultations meetings to review school plans and topics covered annually.

Continuing / discontinuing resource / learning support teaching.

The progress of each pupil who is in receipt of such teaching should be evaluated at the end of each instructional term, and, following consultation with the pupil's class teacher and parents, a decision should be taken about the level of support that can be provided by the learning support teacher in the future.

Our policy on continuation/discontinuation and the way in which it is implemented will have implications for the number of additional pupils who can be provided with supplementary teaching for the first time in each instructional term, and the amount of time that the learning-support teacher will have available for non-teaching or consultative support work. A decision to continue to provide supplementary teaching to a pupil should result in a revision of the pupil's IEP to reflect any changes in emphasis that result from the review of progress.

Parents/Guardians will be contacted in the event of support being discontinued for pupils on GEP’s to explain why their child has been removed from the support list.

Links with outside agencies:

Collaboration with outside agencies is considered important and includes agencies involved with assessment, speech therapy, language therapy, and other health professionals, Curam, etc. This would mostly be the domain of the principal teacher or other delegated teacher. The following are the procedures developed for the referral for Psychological Assessment. ETC

Procedures for Identification of exceptionally able pupils Identification

• Class teacher identifies a pupil who is performing well above the norm in his class work and on standardized tests

• Class teacher notices a pupil displaying signs of boredom or challenging behaviour due to lack of stimulation in assigned work

• Previous class teacher alerts current teacher to pupil's intellectual abilities in one or more curriculum areas

• Parents express concern to class teacher about their child's exceptional ability and ask for assistance in supporting their child's learning


• Class teacher differentiates the curriculum where possible by providing the child with more challenging tasks within the subject matter being taught

• Class teacher informs the parents of their child's exceptional ability, explaining the relevance of standardized test scores

• Class teacher explains to the parents how the child's needs will be catered for in the classroom context and advises parents of other supports available in the wider community to develop their child's full academic potential

• Class teacher may communicate with LS teachers as appropriate for advice and support in relation to available resources for the gifted child

• Child's particular aptitudes/areas of interest are identified and related graded activities made available in the classroom to supplement class work

• High interest low teacher input activities which can be worked on by the child will be provided in the classroom

• The child will be encouraged in senior classes, where appropriate to research topics of personal interest using books from the class library

• Computer and internet facilities may be made available to the child for monitored, teacher-directed research/project work

• Selected appropriate literacy and numeracy activities will also be made available

Strategies for challenging behaviour (emotional behaviour)

• The role of the Support Teacher

Pupils presenting with behavioural or emotional difficulties are referred to the Support Teacher. At the end of the school year the Support Teacher in conjunction with the Class Teacher will fill in a "Support" referral form. Criteria for referring children come under 3 main headings:

1. Disturbed

2. Disruptive

3. Withdrawn

From this referral the Support Teacher will make a list of between 12 and 15 pupils who are to be given support hours.

IEPs are drawn up on each child and these are assessed at the end of each term. Following on from these assessments the teacher will then prioritise the most 'at risk' pupils and allocate 'support' hours accordingly.

The Discipline for Learning (DFL)

The Discipline for Learning project implemented in the school contains a number of strategies for dealing with behaviour generally in classroom and in resource situations.

• School Completion Programme

O'Connell Primary benefits from its participation in this programme in a number of ways. Support is provided to a number of initiatives in the school which benefit the whole cohort of children including the children receiving support from the special education team. Worthy of particular note in this regard is the after school homework club.

Integration of Foreign National Pupils

The pupil will be helped to achieve social integration in the classroom and playground areas as quickly as possible by

• Assist newly arrived pupils in their understand and use the basic language of the classroom

• Equipping the pupil with knowledge of the rules and procedures of the school so that he does not unwittingly infringe these rules -accommodation will be required for early days of pupil's school life.

• Help pupil learn new/different norms of behaviour which may be required of him in school community

• Use of same language buddies to help with adjustment to school in initial period c

• Pupils will be encouraged to work in collaborative groups

• Ensuring classroom displays are inclusive

Provision of Language Support

• Such support is provided in relation to Language Proficiency Benchmarks for non-English speaking pupils at primary level (Integrated Ireland Language Training - IILT)

• Amount of time provided calculated with reference to IILT guidelines

• Development of proficiency may be monitored in relation to performance in the curriculum (checklists provided by IILT)

• Liaison between language support teacher and class teacher is used to focus the programme of support

• Feedback on progress provided regularly to class teachers

(As we no longer have a Language support teacher a designated learning support teacher will cater for the language support needs of pupils with little or no English in a learning support capacity.)

ASD Class

A new class will be established in September 2014 to cater for the needs of six pupils with ASD who fall within the range of average to mild general learning difficulties. This class will provide appropriate educational and social skills training for these students. The class will be taught by one teacher with the support of 2 sna’s to meet the needs of these students. Parents and other agencies will be involved in creating and implementing the IEP’s for these students, with termly planning meetings to assess development and plan for future learning. Students will be integrated when possible to mainstream classes to enhance social interactions for these students. Plans will be put in place to assist students during yard time and to encourage inclusion during play time.


A comprehensive review and revision of the elements of the school plan dealing with learning support will take place every three years, and should take into account the views of the Board of Management, the principal teacher, the learning-support teacher(s), other teachers on the school staff, and the parents of pupils in the school. This review should be instigated by the principal teacher and the outcomes should lead to a revision of the school plan and changes in specific practices as appropriate. There will also be an annual review each September based on number of children requiring support and resources available.

Reviewed June 2013

Reviewed June 2014