Pobalscoil na Tríonóide

Special Educational Needs

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) Department is an integral part of the Student Support Team, working closely with the Guidance Department, Chaplaincy and Year Heads, as well as SNAs, parents and outside agencies, to support students with additional or special educational needs.

In-School Support

Students are supported educationally in a variety of ways, depending on their needs and the resources available. This includes:

  • Learning Support Literacy/Numeracy classes
  • 1:1 or small group Resource classes for those with very specific needs, as appropriate
  • Team-teaching in mainstream classes, to maximise support and subject choice
  • Modified/reduced/differentiated curriculum, as recommended or necessary
  • Irish Exemptions, in line with current DES guidelines
  • Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), in line with current guidelines
  • IT or other equipment, as appropriate
  • Reasonable Accommodations in the (State) Certificate Exams

Parents are consulted and involved in the decisions relating to the best provisions for their children, as are the students themselves.

How are Students with Additional Educational Needs Identified?

  • Entrance Assessment tests
  • National school feedback
  • Parental concerns/feedback
  • Psychological/Occupational Therapy/Other assessment and reports
  • Teacher referrals
  • In-school standardised testing
  • Monitoring of on- going school performance (school tests and reports)
  • Student self-referral to SEN Dept

Students whose school performance or behaviour gives rise to concern will be referred to the Student Support Team for further assessment and the most appropriate action will be taken to offer support to the student and parents.

What if I’m Concerned About My Child?

Contact the subject teacher/Class Tutor/Year Head/Guidance/SEN to discuss your concerns. The Student Support Team meet weekly to review referrals and concerns and decide on a course of action. It helps if you are specific about the exact nature of your concerns and about how long you have had them.

What are Additional or Special Educational Needs?

These are difficulties experienced by students which make it harder for them to achieve success with the same ease as their peers. Such students need extra support to enable them to reach their true potential. Challenges include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Specific Learning Difficulties, eg Dyslexia, Dyscalculia
  • General Learning Difficulties (Mild/Borderline Mild/Moderate)Mild
  • Speech and Language Difficulties
  • Physical Difficulties, eg Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD/Dyspraxia)
  • Visual or Hearing Impairment
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)/Asperger’s
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Attention Deficit (Hyperactive)Disorder
  • Emotional Disturbance/Anxiety Disorders
  • Behavioural Disorders
  • Medical/Health Issues

Information about these difficulties is available on the Special Education Support Service website www.sess.ie (see Links section). We also have a number of resources available in school which parents are welcome to borrow.

How is the SEN Dept Resourced?

The Department of Education and Science (DES) supplies the Special Ed Teaching hours allocation, SNA Support, IT and other specialised equipment for students with SEN. SET hours allocation is decided with reference to the needs and profile of the school as a whole. Applications are made to the Special Educational Needs Officer (SENO) for SNA support and IT equipment, as recommended in students’ psychological and/or occupational therapy reports.

The SENO’s decision is communicated to the school and DES. The DES will then sanction the SNA/IT support, enabling the school, with parental/guardian consent, to put the appropriate supports in place.

Specific deadlines have been introduced for SENO applications and are currently strictly enforced. New applications for SNA support are kept “on-hold” until the next appropriate deadline. At Post Primary level students are granted ACCESS to an SNA.

See the DES website, www.education.ie, and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) website, www.ncse.iefor further information.

What about Exams?

School Exams

Teachers are notified about students with SEN and advised about appropriate provisions for them in tests and school exams, as well as in class. Students with visual, hearing or physical difficulties may be supported by an SNA who may act as a reader or scribe for them, both in class and for exams, as appropriate. as app

Students with physical or learning difficulties who have been assigned a laptop are encouraged to use them for school tests and exams where possible and appropriate. A separate centre may be provided for this purpose, particularly during main school exams.

State Exams: Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate Exams (RACE)

A range of provisions may be available for students with SEN sitting the State Junior and Leaving Certificate exams, depending on the extent of their difficulties. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reader
  • Scribe
  • Spelling and Grammar Waiver (English/Irish/Language subjects only)
  • Use of Word Processor (laptop) or Tape Recorder
  • Separate Centre
  • Rest breaks
  • Additional Time
  • Enlarged or Modified Exam Papers (Visual/Physical Difficulties)
  • Helper in Practical Exams
  • Modified Orals/Aurals

Applications are currently made to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) in Junior Cert and Leaving Cert years, once the scheme is issued by the SEC. 6th Year

More information is available on the State Exams Commission website:

www.examinations.ie/reasonableaccommodations .

All students sit a standardised spelling test in their English class in 3rd Year and 5th Year to identify any spelling difficulties and possible eligibility for a Spelling Waiver. Students with possible reading difficulties will also be tested. Application is then made to the SEC with all relevant information. They notify school of their decision and it is forwarded to the parents.

Leaving Cert students with SEN who had RACE in Junior Cert, and who are still eligible for support, complete a Reactivation Form and automatically receive the accommodations.

Leaving Certs who wish to make a new application Reasonable Accommodations (Reader or Spelling Waiver, Separate Centre etc) sit a number of tests in school beforehand, including 1:1 standardised reading , writing and spelling tests. The information is forwarded to the SEC, as above.

. Students assigned a Reader/Scribe/Tape Recorder/Laptop etc., practice using these provisions before the main exams where possible and are generally accommodated in a separate centre throughout the exam period. Readers and Supervisors are funded by the SEC for state exams only.

Beyond Secondary School.

The Guidance Dept. offers all students, including those with SEN, much support regarding their future career options and choices.

For those applying to 3rd level colleges and universities, the DARE system (Disability Access Route) offers hope to students with SEN who may not quite achieve the level of points they deserve or need in order to pursue their chosen course. When completing the CAO college application form, Students “flag” their assessed difficulties and may receive a compensatory allocation of points if necessary.

A number of clinics are held around the country each year to highlight this process and advise students and parents how to proceed. For more information see www.accesscollege.ie/dare

SENCo and Guidance assist students with the completion of DARE application forms.

Who is involved in SEN provision?

The SEN Dept is co-ordinated by Ms Marina Cusack, Claire Fitzgerald is the Assistantt Co-ordinator and 1st Year Mentor.

Students with SEN are integrated into mainstream classes as well as receiving some small group or 1:1 tuition: therefore all teachers are involved in supporting students with SEN, as is school management and our invaluable SNA team.

Other agencies involved in supporting students with SEN include:

  • The National Council for Special Education (NCSE)/Special Educational Needs Officer (SENO)
  • National Educational Psychology Service (NEPS)
  • Cork and Waterford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
  • State Exams Commission (SEC)
  • Community Occupational Therapy Service
  • Enable Ireland
  • Visiting Teachers for the Visually Impaired/ Hard of Hearing
  • National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB)

We endeavour to work closely with all agencies in the best interests of our students, and are very grateful for the support they offer us in best providing for the difficulties the students face.

Extra-Curricular Activities/School Tours and Trips

All students, including those with SEN, are encouraged to actively participate in the many extra-curricular activities available in our school. From GAA to Basketball and Rugby, from Music to Debating and Chess, there is something for everyone, if they choose to get involved.

Students or parents concerned about the possible impact of a difficulty or disability should flag this to the teachers involved in the activity, or to the SEN Dept, so that proper provisions can be made to discreetly support their participation.

Homework Club, run after school, is another option in Junior Cycle: Transition Year students work with Junior students as they do their homework, offering them assistance where necessary. This is a boon for those who may need a little extra help with their study and learning in certain subjects. Contact the Main Office for more details.

And Finally…

Keep watching the website and texts for updates re SEN-related deadlines, news and information. Our SEN Inspections yielded a very positive response from the Inspector, Fionnbarra O’Murchu, for which we thank him, as well as some helpful advice. Copies of the Inspection Reports are available on the www.education.ie website and on request.

The SEN Policy is also available from the Main Office.

Contact Details

SEN Dept: Marina Cusack (Co-ordinator) and Claire Fitzgerald (Asst Co-ordinator) 024-25734

Main Office: 024-25836

School Fax: 024-25744

DES www.education.ie

SECwww.examinations.ie/www.ehttps://www.examinations.ie/?l=en&mc=sc&sc=csxaminationsNCSE www.ncse.ie

DARE (Disability Route) www.accesscollege.ie/dare

NEPS www.education.ie/neps

SESS www.sess.ie

Dyslexia Assoc Ireland www.dyslexia.ie

National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) http://www.newb.ie/

Assoc for Higher EducationAccess and Disability www.ahead.ie

National Learning Network www.nln.ie

Autism Support www.AsIAm.ie

National Disability Authority www.nda.ie

Here’s to the kids who are different…For when they have grown, as History’s shown, it’s their difference that makes them unique.” (Anon)

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