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SPECIAL EDUCATION POLICY

Introduction

This second draft of the above policy was formulated by the Principal and Teaching Staff and Learning Support Team of Presentation Primary School, Fermoy and facilitated by Ms. Sile Ni Mhuimhneachain / PCSP in March 2007.


Rationale

The purpose of this policy is to provide practical guidance for
teachers, parents and other interested persons on the provision
of effective learning support to pupils experiencing low achievement and/or learning difficulties and to fulfil our obligations under the Education Act, 1998.

Relationship to the Characteristic Spirit of the School

In our school we are dedicated to helping each child to achieve his/her individual potential. The provision of a quality system of Learning Support is integral to this commitment.

Aims

We endorse the aim of the Revised Curriculum cf. pages 5-9 Primary School Curriculum (Introductory Book) and Learning Support Guideline pages, 14-17.


Staff Roles and Responsibilities

Special Educational needs are a collaborative responsibility shared by all partners in the learning experiences. Parents, Board of Management, Principal, Class Teacher, Special Education Teachers (Learning Support Teacher, Resource Teacher, Resource Teacher for Travellers (shared), Language Support Teacher, Special Needs Teacher (Autism).






Staff Roles and Responsibilities (continued)


The implementation of our policy will be supported as follows:


Board of Management


Oversee implementation and review of the Learning Support policy and the provision of adequate resources, accommodation and storage of records in relation to pupils in receipt SNS; the provision of professional development funding and funding of both membership of professional bodies and attendance at their Conferences e.g. ILSA and Cork Network of Resource Teachers; also, the granting of €100 per annum to purchase books of professional interest and to form a reference library for the staff.

The Principal

The Principal teacher has overall responsibility for the
operation of the school’s Support/Resource programme
and the operation of services for children with Special Educational
Needs.

Part of this work involves ensuring that the teachers and parents of
pupils who are selected for diagnostic assessment and supplementary teaching are enabled to fulfil their roles as outlined in the school plan.

The Principal will
Monitor the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, ensuring that this service is focussed on the pupils with very low achievement.
Keep teachers informed about the external assessment services that are available and the procedures to be followed in initiating referrals.
Inform teachers of any new in-career development programmes or services which may benefit and enhance learning support teaching in the school.



Co-Ordinators

The Principal and Clare Bryan will co-ordinate Learning Support and Special Needs Services in the school.


L.S/R.T. and R.T.T.

Provide supplementary teaching, conduct diagnostic assessment, plan short and long term, maintain and review pupil records and liaise with principal, teachers and parents.

Class Teacher

The class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in his/her classes, including those selected for supplementary teaching.

The class teacher plays an important role in the initial identification of pupils who may have general or specific learning difficulties.

There will be an emphasis on consultation and collaboration with the L.S. / R.T. and with parents with regard to Individual Profile and Learning Programmes (IPLPs) Individual Education Plans (IEP’s).

N.B. The class teacher will make appropriate modifications to teaching approaches and expected learning outcomes for children with learning difficulties.

Parents

Support for and participation in their child’s learning. Parents are required to carry out LS activities at home to support work of supplementary teaching.


Pupil

Development, implementation and review of their own learning.



Special Needs Assistants

The duties of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are assigned by the Principal Teacher. These duties will involve tasks of a non-teaching nature, such as:

General assistance to the class teachers
Preparation and tidying up of classrooms in which the pupils with special needs are being taught
Accompanying individuals or small groups who may have to be withdrawn temporarily from the classroom
Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils with special needs during assembly and break times
Assisting on out-of school visits, walks and similar activities
Assisting the child to become as independent and responsible as possible.


Learning Support

Children attend Learning Support based on teacher recommendation and the results of screening and diagnostic tests.


Identification Procedure for Learning Support

The Staged Approach as in Circ. SP/ED 02/05 is used in this school.

Assessment

To identify children with learning difficulties or low achievement in our school screening tests are administered annually.


Literacy Screening

Junior Infants
Children will be screened at the end of Junior Infants.


Senior Infants
The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) (Hannary 1993) and Word Identification Test are used with pupils in Senior Infants when they have completed five school terms. The MIST test is administered to the children, in small groups, by the Class Teacher and Learning Support Teacher. Following consultation with the Class Teacher and the parents, children who score below the cut-off point on three or more of the test items are selected for supplementary teaching for a period of six-eight weeks.


First to Fifth Class
In June each year all the children from 1 to Fifth class are screened to assess their progress in reading. The Micra T is used for this purpose. These tests are administered by the Class Teachers with the guidance and the support of the Special Education Teachers.



Maths Screening

Junior Infants
Children will be screened at the end of Junior Infants.


Senior Infants
The QUEST Number Screening Test will be used to assess children at the end of Senior Infants.


First to Fifth Class
Revised Sigma-T Maths Test.



Selection for Diagnostic Assessment and Learning Support


The Class Teacher and the Learning Support Teacher discuss the findings of these tests and select children for further testing. The Class Teacher seeks approval of parent/guardian for same. Priority is given to children on or below the 16 percentile. The Learning Support Teacher then carries out diagnostic testing. The tests used to diagnose pupils difficulties in English are the Jackson Phonics Skills Test, The Quest Diagnostic Reading Test and M.D. Neales Analysis of Reading Ability, Early Literacy Test, and Sections from Aston Index.

The findings of these tests, together with the Class Teachers observations determine which pupils are selected for learning support. The parents are then offered a place for their child in the Learning Support Class.


When a child is identified as needing learning support the Principal is consulted and his/her parent/guardian is then sent for by the class teacher and the matter is discussed. The parent must sign a consent form allowing their child to attend the Learning Support Teacher before the child receives supplementary teaching.




Allocation of Places for Learning Support

In the allocation of places for learning support we prioritise in the following order:

pupils who fall on or below the 16 percentile in literacy
the younger children in the school who are experiencing difficulties (early intervention)
pupils who fall below the 16 percentile in Maths
pupils who are experiencing difficulty with Maths from the Junior classes (early intervention)
Other pupils deemed by teaching staff to be in need of support. e.g. mild speech & language difficulties, mild social or emotional problems etc.



Timetabling:

Time allocated is dictated by the needs of the individual pupils.

The provision of Learning Support is in addition to the regular class teaching in English & Maths.
Effort is made to ensure that pupils do not miss out on the same curricular area each time they attend learning support. A flexible approach to timetabling is adopted by class teachers while class disruption is minimised.
The provision of learning support includes withdrawal of pupils from their classroom and in-class tuition.



Procedures for Planning ad Recording Support Programmes for Pupils


Pupil Profiles


The information collected from the various diagnostic tests is evaluated, to identify the pupils’ priority learning needs and to develop suitable learning programmes. A
pupil profile is completed for each child. Relevant information in respect of each pupil is recorded. This includes the pupil’s name and date of birth, names of the teachers involved and the commencement date of supplementary teaching. The pupil’s strengths and learning priorities are listed. Assessment test results are recorded. The class teacher’s observations and any additional information which is relevant to the child’s learning needs are also included.
A record of the pupil’s attendance is kept.


I.E.P / G.E.P.

In collaboration with the class teacher and the parents/guardians where appropriate individual or group educational plans (.I.E.P. and G.E.P.) are devised to meet the educational needs of the pupil.

The specific learning targets and the activities designed to achieve these targets are outlined in the plans. In class and home support activities are also set out. A review date for each plan is included.


Fortnightly Plan & Progress Record:

A fortnightly planning and progress record is completed in respect of each group or individual attending learning support. This outlines the programme of activities to be implemented.

An account of the learning activities undertaken each fortnight is recorded on Progress record sheets. These records, completed phonics worksheets and samples of the pupil’s written work are placed in a file and used to monitor progress. The pupils keep a
sheet on which they record the names of the library books they have read. The parent/guardians sign these sheets.

Children are withdrawn for Learning Support in September and they are reviewed in January. Children who no longer need learning support will be returned to the mainstream class at this time. The children will be withdrawn either individually or in groups according to their needs. The number of pupils in a group will generally not exceed four.

The maximum number of children receiving learning support at any one time will not exceed 30, in accordance with Dept. of Education and Science Learning Support Guidelines. This will mean prioritising the allocation of learning support.



Resource Teaching Policy

We understand the term Special Needs to be defined by the D.E.S. in Circular 02/05. Children with Special Needs are allocated Resource Teaching by the D.E.S. on the basis of reports furnished by appropriate specialists.

Identification of Children with Special Needs


Concerns about children arise in a number of ways

(1) Parents inform the Principal or Class teacher of concerns they have regarding a child

(2) Teachers may have a concern regarding a child
in their class

(3) Concerns may arise following standardised
Testing and consultations with Learning
Support Teachers

Having consulted with the teachers and parents involved the Principal will seek appropriate assessment by or through N.E.P.S. or other specialist services. The procedures laid down by the D.E.S. and N.E.P.S. will be strictly followed.

Following the receipt of the Assessment Report application will be made to the D.E.S. for resource teaching if this is deemed necessary.



Role of Resource Teachers


Development of
individual education plan (IEP) for each pupil who is selected for supplementary teaching in consultation with the class teacher and parents

Maintaining a
fortnightly planning and progress record or equivalent for each individual in receipt of learning support

Meet with parents of each pupil who is in receipt of supplementary teaching to discuss targets and ways in which attainment of the targets can be supported at home.

Meet with parents of each pupil who is in receipt of supplementary teaching at the end of each term to review pupil’s attainment of agreed targets and to discuss the next instructional term and to revise the pupil’s
individual Educational Plan (IEP)

Providing advice to class teacher in such areas as individual pupil assessment and programme planning, as well as approaches to language development, reading, writing and mathematics for pupils experiencing difficulties

Liaising with outside agencies pertinent to the children in their care

Some children have been allocated
Special Needs Assistants.


As a member of the Special Education Team the Resource Teacher may also take class groups or work with teachers and pupils in a classroom setting.


Language Support Teacher (See Appendix 1)

English Language Support in primary education strives to empower pupils from many different communities to access the same educational opportunities as their English-speaking peers and to become fully-integrated members of the community of the school and the wider social community, while respecting and valuing the richness of cultural and linguistic diversity.

The Language Support Teacher takes the children either individually or in small groups according to their needs. The instructional sessions are of 30-60 minutes duration.

Integrate Ireland Language and Training is responsible for the development of materials to support the learning of English as a second language in schools and the presentation of materials, methodology and supplementary aids via a on-going in-service training programme for language support teachers. Teachers in this school avail of this service.


A.S.D Resource Teacher (See Appendix 2)

Presentation Primary School has a special unit (Little Acorns) for children presenting with autism. This is run in accordance with the Department of Education and Science guidelines and support structures. The curriculum is tailored for individual needs and works towards mainstream primary education.

Teaching methods include elements of various styles and techniques i.e. A.B.A. (Applied Behaviour Analysis), T.E.A.C.C.H., P.E.C.S., Lamh signing and a variety of sensory stimuli.

The aim is to integrate all pupils within the main body of the school whenever possible.

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