Q. What is a special need?
A. The term ‘special needs’ refers to a diverse range of needs often caused by a medical, physical, mental or developmental condition or disability. Special needs can include cognitive difficulties, physical or sensory difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and difficulties with speech and language. Professionals (who have the responsibility for helping children with special needs, like paediatricians, psychologists and educators) often use a functional development approach (i.e., looking for delays in functional areas of child development) and a clinical diagnostic approach (i.e., using a set criteria to diagnose conditions or illnesses) to define special needs.
Q. What are some characteristics of students with special needs?
A. The type and extent of difficulties experienced by students with special needs varies greatly, but may include difficulties with:
Reading, writing, number work or understanding information
Mastering academic content
Communication, such as expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
Social interaction, such as making friends or relating to adults
Mobility or movement due to a physical impairment
Hearing or vision due to a sensory impairment
If a student is suspected of having special needs, a comprehensive assessment should take place as early as possible. If a student is determined to have special needs (by meeting the criteria or requirements for special educational services), they may be eligible to receive certain specific free services to help with their unique need. This may include resource teaching hours and access to a Special Needs Assistant.
Here at Scoil Mhuire Naofa we currently have 9 teachers who provide Learning Support and Special Needs Education. Our school also has 7 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs).
Class teachers are constantly assessing their pupils both formally and informally. If your child’s class teacher feels your child is experiencing difficulty in any area they may request a meeting with you and draw up and implement a classroom support plan. You may be asked to do certain tasks with your child at home, while the class teacher may focus more on the area of need within school. If the expected outcome of this plan is not achieved a School Support Plan may be drawn up in consultation with the Special Education Teacher (SET) and further support given. At this time, an Individual Pupil Learning Programme is also drafted. Support given may be in the form of
Tuition in a small group
In class support by a member of the SEN team.
Pupils who are still experiencing difficulty at this stage may be referred to The National Educational Psychological Service. NEPS supports the personal, social and educational development of all children through the application of psychological theory and practice in education. Where a diagnosis is made an Individual Education Plan will be drawn in consultation with the Parents, Class Teacher and SEN teacher.
Standardised tests are used to measure a child’s reading and mathematical achievement, and to determine children’s progress in those areas. Information from the tests is important given the vital role of literacy and numeracy in enabling children to access the full curriculum. The results of these tests may result in your child being offered Learning Support in one or both of Maths and English. A plan will be drawn up for all pupils attending Learning support in consultation with parents. The aim of Learning support is to equip your child with the required skills to no longer require Learning support.