Special Needs Policy
Scoil Charthaigh Naofa
Rahan

Guiding Principals

All of our children have a right to an education which is appropriate to them as individuals. We want our children to feel that they are a valued part of our school community. As far as possible therefore it is our aim to achieve this by adopting three principles that are essential to developing a more inclusive curriculum.

Three principals for inclusion

Setting suitable learning challenges

We aim to give every child the opportunity to experience success in learning and to achieve as high a standard as possible.

Responding to children's diverse learning needs

We take into account the different backgrounds, experiences, interests and strengths that influence the way in which children learn when plan our approaches to teaching and learning.

Overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of children

We recognise that a minority of children will have particular learning and assessment requirements that will create barriers to learning if we do not address them through special arrangements.

In making provision for children with special needs our policy objectives are:
1. To ensure that our duties as set out in e Education Act 1998, Equal Status Act 2000 and the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act 2004, are fully met, to enable children with special education needs to join in the normal activities of the school along with the children who do not have special educational needs.
2. To ensure that all children gain access to a broad and balanced curriculum and have equal opportunity to receive an education that is appropriate to their needs.
3. To identify and assess children with special needs as early as possible- Screening in senior infants with for example the MIST unless earlier assessment has been made.
4. To use our resources as efficiently and as equitably as possible when assessing and meeting the educational needs of our children.
5. To provide a graduated approach in order to match educational provision to children's needs.
6. To develop a partnership with parents/ carers in order to that their knowledge, views and experience can assist us in addressing and providing for their children.
7. To take into account the ascertainable wishes of the children concerned and wherever possible directly involve them in decision making in order to provide more efficiently for them.
8. To ensure collaboration with the Department of Education and Science in order to take effective action on behalf of children with special needs
9. To ensure that staff are aware of their responsibilities towards children with special needs and are available to exercise them.
10. To monitor our effectiveness in achieving the above objectives.

Roles and Responsibilities

In attempting to achieve the above objectives the Board of Management of Scoil Charthaigh Naofa, Principal and staff will take all reasonable steps within the limits of the resources available to fulfil the requirements outlined in this policy document.

Board of Management of Scoil Charthaigh Naofa

The B.O.M. will fulfil its statutory duties towards pupils with special needs. It will ensure that the provision required is an integral part of the school development plan. Members will be knowledgeable about the school's S.E.N provision- funding, equipment and personnel.

Principal/ Post of Responsibility Holder
The principal has overall responsibility for the day to day management of provision. He will work closely with the staff in the coordination of special education and will keep the board of management informed about the working of this policy. He will encourage members of staff to participate in training to help them meet the objectives of this policy. In consultation with staff regarding the coordination of special education, he will liase with the SENO with regard to support hours and is responsible for personnel appointments. He will also be responsible for:
1. Facilitation of planning for class teacher with the support teachers.
2. Overseeing the records of all children with special needs and storing copies of all assessments, tests and IEPs.
3. Liasing with external agencies including the psychology services- organising assessments.
4. Liasing with the health and social services in consultation with external teachers should they be available.
5. Liasing with staff regarding special education.

These duties may be delegated to a member of the in school management team as part of in school promoted posts. 





Coordination of Special Education needs by staff

The staff will meet three times per year in September, January and in the first month after Easter to discuss, coordinate and allocate the provision of special education in the school. Their collective responsibility will be as follows:
1. Coordinating the provision for children with special education needs.
2. Liasing with and advising fellow staff members.
3. Liasing with and advising SNAs with regard to supporting children with special needs.
4. Liasing with parents of children with special needs.
5. Monitoring and evaluating SEN provision.

Responsibilities of Staff

All staff should be fully aware of the content of this policy and of the procedures described within it. Appropriate in service will be made available. As of September 2005, all teachers involved with Special Education will be known as Support Teachers.

Enrolment

The school aims to meet the needs of any child whom the parent wishes to register at the school as long as a place is available and the admission criteria are fulfilled. The Education for Persons with Disabilities Act 2004 states that 'A child is entitled to attend the school which is most suited to his or her overall needs'.
Parents are required to notify the school of their child's special needs in advance of enrolment. The Board of Management will request a copy of the child's medical or psychological report. No child can be refused admission solely on the grounds that he/she has SEN except where the provision required is incompatible with that available in our school.

Special Facilities
Scoil Charthaigh Naofa is a single storey building with ramps where appropriate. There is disabled bathroom facilities provided within the school and all areas of the school are wheelchair accessible. Where specialised equipment is in use training will be given to staff where appropriate.

Resources
Scoil Charthaigh Naofa is a well resourced school which constantly monitors and updates its resources. Information Technology provision is good and is updated regularly. The resources of the school can be reviewed at staff meetings. The annual resource equipment grant will be made available to the person in charge of overseeing the provision of special education within the school and they will be charged with its appropriate expenditure.





Early Intervention

We believe it is important to identify and assess children with special needs as early as possible so that effective measures can be put in place. MIST is administered to all pupils in Senior Infants during the final term.

Stages of Assessment and Provision

Access to the school's broad and balanced curriculum is achieved for most children by differentiation of work by the class teacher. When a class teacher identifies a child with SEN he/she should consult with the staff and provide interventions that are additional to or different from those provided as part of the school's usual differentiated curriculum. The first line of responsibility for the progress of all pupils in the class lies with the class teacher.

Record of Differentiated Support in class (Stage One see Appendix 1)

Class teachers will discuss their concerns with the child's parents. The triggers for this intervention could be as follows:
1. The child makes little or no progress even when teaching approaches are directed at an identified area of weakness.
2. The child shows signs of difficulty in developing literacy and numeracy skills, which result in poor attainment.
3. Persistent emotional or behavioural difficulties which do not respond to behaviour management techniques used by the school.
4. The child has sensory or physical difficulties.
5. The child has communication and/or relationship difficulties.

The class teacher will complete and monitor the record of Differentiated Support for a half term, usually two months. If this strategy does not work then the teacher will continue to the next stage, School Action, in consultation with the Principal and Support Teacher. A letter is sent to parents advising them that their child's needs would be better served in a small group with a support teacher (See appendix 2). Parents will need to sign their consent.

School Action (Stage Two)

In cases where the Record of Differentiated Support indicates that progress has not improved, or if the results of standardised tests and teacher observation indicate this to be the case, intervention in the form of a support teacher will be accessed. Again, class teachers will discuss their concerns with the child's parents. The action to be taken will be as follows:
1. The class teacher and support teacher will differentiate the curriculum in specific areas with achievable goals to be implemented by the class teacher and support teacher.
2. If there are others in the class with similar difficulties in one or more of the specific areas, then a group educational plan will be implemented (See appendix 3).
3. These programmes will be reviewed and updated every term after the Special Education staff meeting for that term.
4. Where progress is such that the child is no longer giving cause for concern, the child will revert to the usual differentiated curriculum available to all children.

Allocation of Special Educational Needs at Stage Two
Staff will meet for a half day at the start of each term i.e. September, January and the first month after Easter, to allocate Special Education for that term. The criteria for this allocation will be as follows:
1. Children who are at or below the 10th percentile in English.
2. Early intervention at infant level in English.
3. Children with an assessed learning difficulty who are not at or below the 10th percentile in English.
4. Children who are at or below the 10th percentile in maths.
5. Early intervention at infant level in maths.
6. Children who have an assessed learning difficulty who are not at or below the 10th percentile in maths.

Children who satisfy the above criteria may be catered for under the school's stage three hours should it prove beneficial to all children involved. In order to cater for children with greatest need, the Stage Two caseload should not be greater than 24 pupils based on our current staffing levels. This is based on a pupil teacher ratio of thirty to one being applied to our current staffing levels. 

Resource (Stage Three)

The support or class teacher will perform tests on these children (at School Action) usually at the beginning or the end of the school year. These tests could include Neale Analysis Reading Test, Aston Index Spelling and Word Recognition Test, Non Reading Intelligence Test etc.
When it has been identified that a child is still struggling and performing below the 10th percentile despite School Action advice could be sought from the SENO, in consultation with the child's parents.
1. A psychological assessment will be arranged (See Education for Persons with Disabilities Act 2004)
2. Outside agencies will be contacted, who will advise on a range of provision including IEP targets and strategies.
3. Triggers for intervention for resource could be that despite an individualised programme for the child
" Makes little or no progress over a long period of time.
" Continues to work at Primary Curriculum levels substantially below that of children of similar age.
" Continues to have literacy and numeracy difficulties which substantially and regularly interfere with the child's learning, or that of other children despite an appropriate behaviour management programme and IEP
" Has sensory and/or physical needs, and requires additional specialist equipment or regular visits from an advisory service.
" Has ongoing communication or relationship difficulties that prevent social development, and act as a barrier to learning.
4. When the SEN for a child has been confirmed by the psychologist an application for resource hours will be forwarded to the SENO. The SENO will determine whether the child falls into the category of Lower Incidence or Higher Incidence. Lower incidences will be awarded resource hours while the school makes provision for Higher Incidences under the general allocation system.
5. If it is felt by the psychologist that the child is not coping in the classroom setting an SNA may be applied for.
6. In circumstances where a child uses specialised equipment, consultants will be required to demonstrate how that equipment is used to an SNA(should one be sanctioned to the school), the class teacher, the support teacher and the principal.
7. Specialised yard equipment will also need to be demonstrated to these staff. Courses will be provided on an ongoing basis to train staff in the relevant areas
8. If the psychologist recommends an exemption from Irish, the principal will see to this under guidance from the Department of Education and Science.

Individual Education Plan

Based on the psychologist's report, tests, Record of Differentiation and School Action Plan, the Resource Support Teacher in consultation with the Support Teacher, Class Teacher, SNA (if assigned), parents and representatives of outside agencies (where he/she feel that outside intervention is appropriate) will formulate an Individual Education Plan (see appendix 4).

These plans which employ a small-steps approach feature significantly in the provision that we make in the school. By breaking down the existing levels of attainment into finely graded targets, we ensure that the child experiences success.
This plan includes:
" The nature and degree of the child's abilities and skills.
" The degree of the child's special needs.
" The present level of performance of each child and by either modifying activities or by providing support that will help the child to participate in them.

Involving Parents/ Carers and Children

The views of parents/ carers will be sought at all stages of assessment and provision. Whenever and wherever possible the views of the child will be ascertained and the child will be directly involved in the process.

Complaints

If parents have a complaint about the Special Education Provision made then the parent in question should in the first instance make an appointment to speak to the principal.
The complaint will be investigated and dealt with as early as possible. If the matter is not resolved to the parents' satisfaction, then the matter proceeds to the Board of Management.




Monitoring and Reviewing

The Board of Management will ensure that Special Educational Needs provision is an integral part of the school development plan and will evaluate the effectiveness and success of this policy by monitoring;
1. The standards obtained by children with special needs.
2. The number of children at each of the three stages: Differentiation within Class, School Action, Resource.
3. The level and pattern of help.
4. Case samples from children at all stages.
5. Views of parents.
6. Visits from special teachers.
7. Staff views on in service.
8. Children's views.

This policy will be reviewed in September 2009 and every three years after that.