Special Education

The aim of our Special Education Programme is to optimise the teaching and learning process in the school, so as to enable the pupils with special needs to develop their social skills, to enhance their self-esteem and confidence and to achieve their full potential in Literacy and Numeracy before leaving primary school. This aim can be achieved most effectively through the implementation of whole-school policy on:

  1. Prevention
  2. Identification
  3. Planning and Implementing a Special Education Programme.
  4. Reassessment and review.


  1. A programme of Phonological Awareness
  2. Shared Reading Programmes.
  3. Emphasis on an oral language approach, (discussing, predicting etc.) across the curriculum to enable full participation by all the children in the class, particularly in History / Geography where the reading level is often too difficult for pupils with low achievement.
  4. Group teaching in English and Maths.
  5. Revision, reinforcement and over-learning.
  6. The use of concrete materials in the teaching of Mathematics at all levels.
  7. A system of support, “Buddy System”, where more able pupils work collaboratively with low achievers.
  8. Any strategy, which will enable a pupil to monitor his/her own learning and become independent learners, i.e. SRA & other self-correcting materials.

In programme planning that a teacher be aware of the essential basic skills in Numeracy and Literacy without which the child cannot survive in the classroom.


Early Intervention:

In the Infant Classes teacher observation and assessment are the primary tools to be used in identifying children who appear to be having Learning Difficulties. The Belfield Infant Assessment is administered to any child in Junior Infants who presents with severe difficulties. The parents are made aware of the teacher’s concerns and recommendations. This may involve referral to outside agencies, e.g. Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapist, Psychological/Psychiatric services.

In Senior Infants, (5th term in school), the Middle Infant Screening Test (M.I.S.T), is administered by the class teachers with the assistance of the Special Education Team. Any child who falls below the cut off marks in three or more areas is selected for participation in the ‘Forward Together Programme,’ which is carried out by the Special Education Team. On completing the programme children are re-tested. Improvement is measured not only in terms of better scores but, just as importantly, in increased confidence and independence. Parents are then invited to an individual meeting to review their child’s progress. The information gleaned during the Programme forms part of the screening process in First Class.



To identify all the pupils in need of additional teaching and resource teaching, including pupils who have Special Educational Needs arising from ‘high incidence’ and ‘low incidence’ disabilities.

Stage I:

A class teacher or parent may have concerns about the academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development of certain pupils. The teacher should then administer screening measures, which may include screening checklists and profiles for children in senior infants and first class, standardised, norm-referenced tests for older children and behavioural checklists where appropriate.

The class teacher should then draw up a short, simple plan for extra help within the normal classroom setting in the relevant areas of learning and / or behavioural management. The success of the plan should be reviewed on a regular basis, with appropriate parental involvement. If concern remains after approximately two terms, the Special Education Support Team in the school may be consulted about the desirability of a move to Stage II.

Stage II:

In the case of children with learning difficulties, if the class teacher’s plan fails to achieve the desired outcome, the child will be referred to the learning support teacher, with parental permission, for further diagnostic testing. If this diagnostic assessment indicates that supplementary teaching would be beneficial, this will be arranged. Parents and class teachers will be involved with the learning support teacher in drawing up the learning plan, complementing the plan with supplementary activities in class and at home and in implementing the plan.

The learning support teacher and the class teacher should review on a regular basis, in consultation with the parents, the rate of progress of each child receiving supplementary teaching. If significant concerns remain after a period of at least one school term, then it may be necessary to implement Stage III.

However, in the case of children with emotional or behavioural difficulties, it is recognised that, with serious difficulties, more urgent action may be needed. In these cases, the child’s needs should, with parental permission, be discussed with the relevant NEPS psychologist of referred the clinical services of the Health Board. This may lead to a more detailed plan of behavioural management to be implemented at home and in class and/ or may lead to referral for further specialist assessment.

Stage III:

Procedures for referring pupils to Out of School Agencies:

Educational Assessment:

Where a Class Teacher and the Special Education Teacher feel it necessary to have an Educational Psychological Assessment administered on a particular pupil, either the Class Teacher or Special Education Teacher makes a recommendation to the child’s parents. If the parents consent, they fill in the necessary forms. The class teacher in collaboration with the Special Education Teacher completes the child referral form and the assessment proceeds. The psychologist then meets with the parents to discuss the outcome of the assessment and gives them a copy of the report. He/she also meets with the Class Teacher and Special Education Teacher to discuss the findings. Children who are deemed to be in need of Supplementary Teaching are considered at the next review date. Reviews usually take place in September and February.

Behavioural Assessment:

Where the child presents with persistent behavioural difficulties the Class Teacher, having consulted the Principal, can make a recommendation to the parents for assessment at The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Confidentiality: – All Psychological Reports are kept in the office of the principal. Where necessary the Special Education Teacher may retain a copy of the report. The Class Teacher will be informed in September of any Psychological Reports pertaining to children in his/her class. The Class Teacher may read and summarise these reports in order to plan appropriate work for that child. All Profiles, Reports and Assessments are treated as confidential. A parent has the right to see the Learning Support Records of his / her child. It is the policy of the school to retain these records in a secure place for a period of not less than five years after a child has left 6th Class.

Class Teachers have responsibility for administering the Drumcondra Primary Reading, Drumcondra Primary Maths Tests and the NFER test. These tests are administered during the last term as follows:

Rang 1 – – Drum. Prim. Reading 1 Drum. Prim. Maths 1

Rang 2 – Drum. Prim. Reading 2 Drum. Prim. Maths 2

Rang 3 – Drum. Prim. Reading 3 Drum. Prim. Maths 3

Rang 4 – Drum. Prim. Reading 4 Drum. Prim. Maths 4

Rang 5 – Drum. Prim. Reading 5 Drum. Prim. Maths 5

Rang 6 – Drum. Prim. Reading 6 Drum. Prim. Maths 6

The Non-Verbal Reasoning Test is administered at the start of Third Class.

The Verbal Reasoning Test is administered at the start of Fourth Class.

The results of these screening tests are given to the Special Education Team. Priority is given to children scoring at or below the 12th percentile, who are then offered a place by the Special Education Team. Other children are then selected for supplementary teaching in consultation with the Class Teacher, (up to a maximum of 30 pupils per Special Education Teacher). The written permission of parents is required before a child can take up his/her place in the Special Education Class. Parents who reserve the right not to avail of Supplementary Teaching must confirm this on the Parental Permission Form, (Appendix 1). A Diagnostic Assessment is then conducted by the Special Education Teacher to ascertain the child’s individual strengths and learning difficulties. A range of tests is currently in use. These include –

Quest Diagnostic Tests
Neale Analysis of Reading Ability
Jackson “Get Reading Right”
Phonological Assessment Battery (PhAB)
The Standard Reading Tests Daniels and Diack
Maths Language Test
Hesse Mathematical Checklists
Schonell Spelling Test
Spar Spelling Test
Schonell Silent Reading Test
Marino Sight Vocabulary Test.

The catchment area of our school is subject to intensive housing development and we can often have a large intake of pupils throughout the school in September. As with all our pupils these children are similarly screened and selected for Supplementary Teaching.


The Role of the Board of Management – Policy Development and Support:

Board of Management should provide adequate classroom accommodation and teaching resources and through the Principal oversee the development, implementation and review of the school policy.

The Role of the Principal: – Overall Responsibility

The Principal plays a central role in the over-all planning and implementation of the Special Education Policy.

The Principal –

  1.  Should work with teachers in the development of the school plan on special education needs.
  2.  Monitor the implementation of the school plan on special needs on an ongoing basis.
  3.  Monitor the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, ensuring that this service is focused on pupils with very low achievement.
  4.  Oversee the implementation of a whole school assessment and screening programme to identify pupils with very low achievement and/or learning difficulties so that these pupils can be provided with the support they need.
  5.  Help teachers to increase their knowledge and skills in the area of special education teaching by, for example, providing guidance and advice with regards to teaching methods and materials and by encouraging teachers to avail of relevant in-career development.

The Role of the Special Education Co-coordinator:

The Special Education Co-coordinator assumes direct responsibility for co-ordinating learning support and special needs services.

  1.  Keep teachers informed about the external assessment services that are available and the procedures to be followed in initiating referrals.
  2.  Maintains a list of pupils who are receiving supplementary teaching and /or special education services.
  3.  Helps to co-ordinate the allocation of pupils, caseloads and work schedules of the learning-support and resource teachers.
  4.  Advises parents on procedures for availing of special needs services.
  5. Liaises with external agencies such as psychological services to arrange assessments and special provision for pupils with special needs.
  6.  Oversees the special education needs budget.

The Role of the Class Teacher – First Line Responsibility:

The Class Teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all his or her pupils, including those selected for supplementary teaching. The role of the Class Teacher is outlined in the Staged Approach to Special Educational Needs.

The Role of the Parents:

Parents are encouraged to let the school know of any difficulties their child may be experiencing with schoolwork and to keep the class teacher informed of any progress they observe. Collaboration between parents, Class Teacher and Special Education Teacher is very important.

Parents will be informed of:

  1. Results of Assessment.
  2. Ways in which attainment of such targets can be supported at home, e.g. shared reading.

Parental involvement is encouraged and promoted within the school through the following programme

  1. Shared Reading Initiatives
  2. Parent-Teacher Meetings

Parents meet with the Special Education Teacher at the beginning and end of a teaching term to discuss his or her child’s strengths and difficulties, the programme to be followed and the expected outcomes. Parents are also encouraged to meet the Special Education Teacher on an on-going basis and there is provision made for this consultation in the Special Education timetable. Parents are expected to support children in their homework assignments in reading, spelling, math etc.

The Role of the Special Education Teacher:

The main focus of the Special Education Teacher’s work will be the provision of supplementary teaching of pupils either in the pupil’s own classroom or the Special Education Teacher’s room. A flexible approach to the delivery of supplementary teaching is being adopted; all approaches are decided on the basis of needs of these children.

A vital function of the Special Education Teacher is to provide a safe and happy environment where the child can grow in confidence and self-esteem, and experience success at his or her own level. The Special Education Teacher also has a consultative role in the area of pupil referral to, and placement in special educational services, acquisition of teaching and learning resources, programme planning for individual pupils and groups, and the development of school policies for less able pupils.

The activities of the special education teacher should include:

  1. Assisting in the development of whole school strategies to enhance early learning and to prevent learning difficulties.
  2.  Developing and writing up an individual Profile and Learning Programme for each pupil who is selected for supplementary teaching in consultation with Class Teacher and parents.
  3.  Maintaining Planning and Progress Records for each individual.
  4.  Delivering intensive early intervention programmes and providing supplementary teaching in English to pupils in the junior school.
  5. Co-ordinating the implementation of whole school procedures for the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching.
  6.  Contributing to the development of policy on learning support at the whole – school level.
  7.  Providing advice to class teachers.
  8.  Contributing at the school level to decision – making regarding the purchase of learning resources, books and materials.


The school year is divided into two teaching terms, September to February and February to June. Re-assessment is on going and a full review takes place at the end of each teaching term. Supplementary Teaching ceases when in the opinion of the Class Teacher and the Special Education Teacher the child has made sufficient progress. Children who have made some progress are re-evaluated and new learning targets are set for a further instructional term.