Additional Education Needs Policy


Section 1.

  • Introduction
  • School Description
  • Mission Statement
  • Operation Context
  • The Legal Context
  • Context of the School Admission Policy
  • Working Definition of Additional Needs

Section 2.

  • Aims of the Additional Needs Department

Section 3.

  • Procedures
  • The Transfer Process from Primary School to Desmond College

Section 4.

  • The Identification Process
  • Access to Learning Support
  • Informing Staff

Section 5.

  • Organisation of Class Groupings and Learning Support
  • Modes of Provision of Learning Support
  • Approaches to Learning in the Learning Support Dept
  • Assessment Exam Procedures

Section 6.

  • Access to Psychological Reports and IEPs
  • Record Keeping
  • Homework Procedures
  • Yearly AEN Timetable
  • IEP Individual Education Plans

Section 7.

  • Involvement of the Educational Partners
  • Role of Board of Management
  • Role of Principal and Deputy Principal
  • Role of Guidance Counsellor
  • Role of Learning Support Co-ordinator
  • Role of Learning Support Teachers
  • Role of parents
  • Role of Students

Section 8.

  • Links with Outside Agencies and Services
  • Additional Needs Policy


Section 1. Introduction and Background

School Description

Desmond College is a Vocational School in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. We are a co-educational school. The school population is 503.

Mission Statement

We in Desmond College strive to support and encourage each individual within the school community to reach his/her full potential in a caring environment.

Bímís go léir ag abair le chéile.

Operating Context

As our programme is based on the needs of the students, it remains fluid and the system and procedures in place continue to grow and develop each year.

Our aim in developing this formal policy is to

  • Identify and codify the current procedures and practices in the school
  • To comply with current regulations and legislation in this area
  • To establish a formal process and means of addressing issues around Learning Support in the school

The Legal Context

This policy is prepared with reference to the following legislation: the Education Act 1998(EA), the Education(Welfare) Act 2000(EWA),the Equal Status Act 2000(ESA),and the Education for Persons with Additional Educational Needs Act 2004(EPAEN).

The Context of the School Admissions Policy

The school operates an open admissions policy, promoting equality of access, participation and benefit for all in as far as the school can fulfil the needs of an individual student.

The Board of Management is committed to ensuring full entitlement and access for pupils with additional educational needs to high quality education with a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, so that they can reach their full potential and enhance their self-esteem. This is consistent with the provisions of the Education for Persons with Additional Educational Needs Act 2002, Section 2, which provides that

a child with additional educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs unless the nature or the degree of those needs of the child is such that to do so would be inconsistent with

(a) the best interests of the child in accordance with any assessment carried out under this act, or

(b) the effective provision of education with whom the child is to be educated.

Working Definition of Additional Needs

“Additional educational needs” means, in relation to a person, a restriction in the capacity of the person to participate in and benefit from education on account of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or learning disability, or any other condition which results in a person learning differently from a person without that condition.

While the definition in the act does not refer to students with emotional behavioural difficulties, section 7 (4)(b) of the Equal Status Act 2000 does indicate a category of additional needs in this case and the school will be mindful of such students also in providing for additional needs.

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Section 2. Aims of the Additional Needs Department

  • To ensure full entitlement and access for pupils with additional educational needs to a high quality education with a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, so that they can reach their full potential and enhance their self esteem.
  • To educate pupils with learning difficulties, wherever possible, alongside their peers within the normal curriculum after giving due consideration to the appropriate wishes of their parents and the necessity to meet individual needs.
  • To identify and assess pupils as early and thoroughly as is possible and necessary in order to ensure that we can answer those needs.
  • To fully involve parents and pupils in the identification, assessment and delivery of Learning Support and to strive for close co-operation between all concerned, and a multi-disciplinary approach to the resolution of pertinent issues.
  • To meet the needs of all pupils who have learning difficulties, by offering continual and appropriate forms of educational provision by the most efficient use of all available resources.
  • The provision for pupils with AEN is a matter for the whole school and we strive to enable all staff to play a part in identifying AEN pupils and to take responsibility for recognising and addressing their individual needs. We hope that as a staff we will ensure that consideration of AEN crosses all curriculum areas and all aspects of teaching and learning.
  • Some whole staff training has been undertaken in the areas of inclusion, differentiation, classroom management, positive behaviour approaches and assessment for learning.
  • To stimulate and maintain pupil curiosity, interest and enjoyment in their education.
  • To enable pupils with learning difficulties to be familiar with literacy, numeracy and basic skills, in order for them to lead full and productive lives.

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Section 3. Procedures

The Transfer Process from Primary School to Desmond College

We seek to identify and assess pupils with learning difficulties as early and thoroughly as is possible and necessary in order to ensure that we can properly answer those needs. Therefore the school(s) attended by the student as early as possible, requesting all relevant information and reports in order to properly identify and assess needs. (Education Welfare Act, 7a)

  • This process begins with a visit by the principal to all feeder schools where he shows a DVD of our school and informs the Primary School Principal of our Additional Needs Policy.
  • All prospective students and their parents are invited to view our school and facilities at the beginning of February. Members of the Learning Support Department and the Additional Educational Needs Co-ordinator are available to answer any queries on the night.
  • Notification of the Entrance Exam is posted to all enrolled pupils and a request is made to the parents to bring in any Educational Assessments and give them to the Additional Educational Needs Co-ordinator who is in attendance on that day. All children present on the day are given the Drumcondra Reasoning Test, which is administered by the Career Guidance teacher and the GRT2, administered by a member of the Learning Support Department.
  • In the case of a limited number of pupils presenting with mild to moderate learning difficulties there is an option of placement in a additional class. Numbers in the class vary but the maximum in the group is twelve. Placement in this class is dependant on application by the parent followed by supporting evidence of the child’s suitability from a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker etc. It is not necessary for these pupils to sit an Entrance Exam.

Psychological assessments are required before students are offered a place. NRIT is administered after a settling in period.

Based on this identification process, school management will then request the DES to provide resources such as additional needs assistants, specialised equipment, furniture, adequate accommodation, transport etc. so as to enable the school to discharge its duty adequately.

It is to be understood that the ability of the school to respond to the educational needs of any student applying for admission is dependent on the Department of Education supplying the appropriate facilities and resources to allow the school to answer that need. It may therefore be necessary for the Board of Management to defer enrolment of a student pending provision of appropriate resources by the DES to meet the needs of that student.

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Section 4. The identification Process

Further to the procedures outlined above and in accordance with Section 14.1(e) of the EPAEN Act 2004, the school shall ensure that “teachers and other relevant employees of the school are aware of the importance of identifying children and students who have additional educational needs.”

Access to Learning Support

The following groups of students qualify for learning support in the school:

  • Students who have had a psychological assessment which recommends Learning Support/Resource teaching, and who have been granted resource hours in either the high or low incidence categories.
  • Students who have a psychological assessment which recommends Learning Support, but who have not been granted resource hours will be accommodated in Learning Support or subject support groupings.
  • Students who have not been assessed but who display profound difficulties in the Drumcondra Reasoning Test will be offered Learning Support. Parents of these students will be consulted with a view to accommodating their child in a Learning/Subject Support Group.
  • Traveller and Non-National Students.
  • During the school year students who are identified by teachers, parents, or who request it themselves can be accommodated within existing groupings if deemed appropriate.
  • Results of mid-term assessments given by class teachers to be shared with L.S. support team. Following mid-term hours and support are delivered via team teaching.

Informing Staff

The Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor and Learning Support Co-ordinator have access to the results of the Drumcondra Reasoning Test. A copy of Reading Ages plus a mini profile of all pupils with a psychological assessment is made available to all first year teachers at their first staff meeting.

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Section 5. Organisation of Class Groupings and Learning Support

  • All members of the Additional Class participate in the JCSP as well as seven Junior Certificate Subjects- Maths, English, History, Art, Woodwork, CSPE, Home Econ/Metalwork. Non-exam subjects are SPHE (social skills SPHE) and PE.
  • For the remainder of the 1st year applicants a policy of mixed ability is in place for all classes.
  • In 2nd and 3rd Year banding is the preferred method for English, Maths and Irish based on the summer assessment in 1st Year, and subject choices.
  • Introduction of FETAC level 3 courses for some of our pupils.
  • In 4th and 5th Year banding is also in operation. Entrance into the LCA programme is offered to all suitable former JCSP pupils and is based on an interview and recommendation of subject teachers. If pupils sit Foundation Level English in their Junior Certificate it is presumed they will apply for LCA.
  • Team teaching is also in use ie. one teacher teaches and the other assists. Additional class in Home Econ, Social Ed-LCA, English-First year.

Modes of Provision of Learning Support

  • Individual Withdrawal is used only where a student requires specialised individual support.
  • Small Group Withdrawal is the preferred method of provision with most students in resource and learning support getting their allocation in small groups. The organisation of these groupings is the job of the Learning Support Co-ordinator.
    Groups are arranged on the basis of similar need profiles and the capacity to withdraw students at the same time. Withdrawal for small groups usually occurs during Irish for those students who are exempt and during continental language for those not doing a language.
  • Group Provision (shadowing) is used in 2nd and 3rd year where groups of students are given Maths and English against Maths and English in small clusters in order to allow for a foundation class or a supported pass class in these core subjects.
  • Reduced Timetable. A small number of students whom it is deemed, after consultation with the NEPS psychologist, parents and teachers, cannot sustain a full curriculum, have their timetable reduced. In as far as possible, extra learning support or more classes in remaining subjects are provided at the time of the dropped subjects (ie Additional Class).

Approaches to Learning in the Learning Support Department

Learning Support staff provide a variety of experiences/activities during a course of study and during a lesson if possible. Staff try to identify the learning style of the individual and use suitable methodologies to appeal to the kinaesthetic, auditory, sensory, linguistic, visual and interpersonal intelligences. There are opportunities for individual and group activities.

Lessons are conducted in a secure, supportive and disciplined manner. The pupils and the staff interact in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect. The learning support staff believe that learning takes place most effectively in the context of a caring relationship and that good teacher/pupil relationships foster trust and promote self reliance and initiative in the student.

Staff use a reward system ranging from verbal praise to the use of improvement and merit cards to reward and reinforce achievement.

JCSP is an invaluable source of postcards, stickers, wall charts and initiatives.

Assessment Exam Procedures

Learning Support students sit house exams in accordance with school procedures. We endeavour to make sure that students who have been awarded special arrangement for State Exams have the benefit of same in Pre-Exams.

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Section 6. Access to Psychological Reports

Individual files will be kept on each student in our caseload. Information in the files includes psychological reports, results from entrance assessments, correspondence between the school, parents and other relevant agencies, and applications for support and concessions.

Files are maintained by the Learning Support Co-ordinator and access is afforded to the following personnel- the School Principal, the Deputy Principal, members of the Additional Needs Department, the Year Heads and the guidance counsellor.

Beyond these individuals, information regarding additional needs is communicated to teachers on a need to know basis. In accordance with section 14.(1.d) of the EPAEN Act 2004,the school ‘shall ensure that all relevant teachers and other relevant employees of the schools are aware of the additional educational needs of students’.

Information is provided to teachers at the first staff meeting, as previously outlined under the Assessments Section. Other newly identified students are notified to the teachers as the year progresses. This is the responsibility of the Additional Needs Co-ordinator.

Record Keeping

The Learning Support Team met each week. Each teacher on the team keeps their own attendance and progress records which are filed in the Learning Support Area at the end of each term. This information is used in devising and planning IEPs. All resource students should have a learning plan we are currently working on this task.

Homework Procedures

Where homework is given, same procedures as per homework policy apply. Special emphasis is placed on positive feedback. AEN work is also recorded in the students journal, this facilitates communication with parents and the keeping of class records.

Yearly AEN Timetable

The following timetable will be implemented in as far as possible each year in providing for the needs for AEN students in the school.

(a) Finalisation of allocation of hours to students and timetables for teachers and students for AEN provision.
(b) Finalisation of list for exemption from Irish. Identification and regularisation of incoming student situation.
NRIT is administered to the JCSP group by Additional Needs Co-ordinator and the guidance counsellor.

Begin the development of the detail of IEPs with the teachers allocated to specific students, beginning with low incident pupils. Adjustment of IEPs based on consultation with parents and teachers. Gathering of information for the IEP.

(a) Identification of pupils requiring psychological assessment following consultation with teachers, parents and management.
(b) Application to Reasonable Accommodation State Examinations Sector for AEN students for Junior Certificate. (A. Hannon)

Review of students progress based on Christmas exams.

Application for continual additional teaching and/or SNA support for the next year to AENO. NCSE forms.

Application for new teaching support /SNA hours. NCSE forms to be processed after assessments have been received from incoming students.

(a) Application to Reasonable Accommodation State Examinations Sector for AEN students examinations needs for Leaving Certificate for the following year.
(b) Consultation with Principal and Deputy Principal following the finalisation of the allocation of hours by the AENO for the coming year.
(c) Review of present 2nd year pupils.

IEP Individual Education Plans

Section 9 of the EPAEN Act (2004) relating to IEP provision has not yet commenced and we await guidelines from the Council in this regard. In the interim we are using templates provided by NEPS and the JMB/AMCSS education offices.

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Section 7. Involvement of the Educational Partners

Roles of Staff

Board of Management

  • To ensure that a policy is in place and that it is reviewed regularly.
  • To make recommendations for improvement where appropriate.
  • To ensure that the school meets its requirements in relation to inclusion under the Education Act (1998).

Principal and Deputy Principal

  • Assumes overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the school’s policies on Additional Needs and Learning Support.
  • To sanction exemption from certain subjects as requested.
  • To ensure adequate timetabling of hours for learning support, resource, traveller and non-national support.
  • To allocate time for staff to reflect, review and plan curricular arrangements, for planning of individual programmes (IEPs), for consulting with support personnel and other professionals regarding the needs, progress, and review of individual students. The principal shall provide adequate time for review of policy by additional needs team as required.
  • To organise the inservice training in additional needs for staff.
  • To allocate some time on teachers timetables to facilitate starting the IEP process

Guidance Counsellor

  • To participate in the preparation of the Additional Needs Policy of the school.
  • To work with the Additional Needs Team and other staff in the implementation and review of this policy.
  • To liaise on an ongoing basis with the other members of the Additional Needs Team and Pastoral Care Team as relevant matters arise.
  • To provide a range of services to all students, including careers information, study skills and examination techniques, consultation with parents, referral services etc. with an awareness of the additional educational needs of students.
  • To work together with Additional Needs Team to conduct assessments of incoming first years and other students new to the school. To advise the Principal of any matters arising from such assessments.
  • To support students who have been referred.
  • To advise on supports available at third level for A.E.N. students and to assist students in assessing these supports.

Learning Support Co-ordinator

  • Co-ordinates the collection of assessments of incoming students and works with parents and feeder schools to identify students with additional needs.
  • Works with the Deputy Principal in the allocation of students to classes and the allocation of students to individual Learning Support teachers.
  • Works with the others Learning Support teachers, parents and others in developing IEPs for the students.
  • Responsible for timetabling provisions for Learning Support.
  • Responsible for the submission of NCSE forms.
  • Responsible for subject options and the setting of class groups.
  • Responsible for liaising with external service providers i.e NEPS, AENO, West Limerick services and Triona Ryan H.S.E.
  • Co-ordinate the exemptions from Irish and the reasonable accommodations for the State Examinations.
  • Organise assessments with NEPS.
  • Work with Additional Needs Assistants.
  • To communicate with Principal and staff at the start of the year, information concerning new pupils and update as required.
  • Organise term meetings with parents of all low incident pupils and has many high incident as possible.
  • Liaise with the new Limerick Children’s Services, in Newcastlewest. Their education intervention specialist is Marion Leahy. This service is proving to be very beneficial as they have already assessed 14 pupils in 2009-2010.

Learning Support Teachers

  • Teach individual and small groups of students requiring learning support.
  • To develop individual programmes based on the IEP for these students.
  • Offer advice to subject teachers and other departments on employing differentiated teaching methods and resources in their subject teaching.
  • Liaise with certain professionals when requested by management.

Additional Needs Assistants

  • Carry out duties as assigned by the Principal in accordance with Circular 10/76.
  • To cater for the care needs of the Additional Needs Students including assistance with clothing, feeding, toileting and general hygiene.
  • Providing special assistance where necessary for students with particular difficulties e.g. writing, typing, photocopying etc.
  • Assistance on out-of-school activities as may be required.
  • Assisting in the organisation and procurement of items needed for class e.g. textbooks, P.E. gear etc. and in the organisation of student locker.
  • Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils with additional needs during assembly, recreational and dispersal periods.
  • To encourage each pupil to become more independent and self reliant.

Subject Teachers

  • To implement the Additional Needs Policy by taking into account the needs and learning styles of all their students and to employ suitable teaching methods so that all students can access the curriculum at an appropriate level.
  • To take steps to inform themselves of the additional needs of any student in their class and to bring any concerns regarding such a student to the relevant personnel.

Parental Involvement

  • The school believes that effectiveness of any assessment or intervention will be influenced by the involvement and interest of the child and his/her parents. Both the parents and the students have important and relevant information to offer.
  • On Admission Day information on additional needs provision in the school is passed on to parents/guardians. Information booklets make parents aware of the special concessions and accommodations available for students in State Examinations.
  • Parents are invited to contact the Learning Support Department during the year in addition to meeting the Learning Support teachers at Parent/Teacher Meetings.
  • Parents are always contacted if a student is to be referred for assessment and afterwards to discuss the outcome of the assessment, the development of an IEP and the review of the IEP.
  • Parents are expected to support the work of the school with the student and to ensure the correct use and maintenance of any aids or equipment that are provided for the student.

Student Involvement

  • To contribute to the drawing up of learning programmes and the setting of learning targets for themselves.
  • To contribute to the selection of texts and other materials that may help to reach these targets.
  • To contribute to the review of learning programmes.
  • To co-operate with the agreed programme and its evaluation by participation in appropriate tests and assessments.

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Section 8. Links with Outside Agencies and Services

The EPAEN Act (2004) assures interlinking provision between the National Council for Additional Education Needs (NCSE),The National Education Welfare Board (NEWB), and the Health Executive and school.

In accordance with this act, the school will work with the local AENO,the local NEPS psychologist, the local resource teachers for Travellers, the Blind and the Hearing impaired, psychologists, or psychiatrists from the social welfare Department and the Health Executive and any other relevant professionals in providing an integrated response to the needs of any particular student.

It will be customary to hold case meetings with relevant professionals with the permission and knowledge of the student’s parents (and their attendance) in order to determine the best approach and provision for the students in question. The arrangements for such meetings will, at present, be co-ordinated by the Deputy Principal and permission sought from the parents in advance.

Notes from such meetings will be recorded and maintained in the student’s file.

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