The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004) states that

“A child with SEN shall be educated in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs unless the degree or nature of those needs of the child is such that to do so would be inconsistent with the best interests of the child.”

Shanballymore National School is an inclusive environment which embraces and celebrates the uniqueness of every pupil.

Shanballymore National School strives to nurture and cater for the needs of all pupils within the school.

 Pupils with SEN are integrated into mainstream classes; they receive instruction in all areas of the Revised Primary School Curriculum and receive additional support where necessary.

Appropriate terminology will be used when referring to the pupil with SEN; for example “The child has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The child has a mild general learning disability. The child has a specific speech and language disorder.”


Enrolment of children with special educational needs:


Parents are given an enrolment and information form to fill out prior to their child enrolling in the school. On this form parents are asked to give details of all assessments the child may have had. Parents are also given basic information on the school stressing the importance of parents informing the school of any ‘special need’ their child may have. If a pupil has an identified special need and is already receiving a service from another organisation, it is the responsibility of the parents to notify the school.

 If parents do not notify the school of needs/assessments and/or services received by their child enrolled in the school, the BoM will refuse to admit the child into the school until it receives such reports.

 The Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) is contacted at the earliest opportunity so as to apply for resource teaching/SNA assistance/technology etc. for the pupil.

There is an onus on the school to meet the needs of the child with special needs and their peers who may not have a special need. In line with the School Enrolment policy, if the resources specified in reports are not sanctioned by the SENO, the BoM will appeal the decision of the SENO and not admit the enrolled child into the school environs until the resources to meet the child’s needs are in place. Parents will be informed at all times of progress and meetings arranged with them to discuss concerns etc. The class teacher and SEN teacher will read all current reports on the child, prior to receiving the child in school.


Special education needs team:

The SEN team consists of the Principal, Assistant Principal assigned responsibility for the co-ordination of Special Needs in the school, teachers providing resource and learning support


Procedures for early intervention/ screening/ referral of children with sen:

Shanballymore National School promotes a policy of early intervention in order to support children identified as having a need for additional support from the SEN team. Parents will be informed at all stages of any concerns teachers may have.


Special education team meetings:

The SEN team meets twice yearly (September and January) with individual mainstream teachers to discuss the progress of children currently receiving additional support from the SEN team and other children in their classes who they feel are at risk and may benefit from extra support. The Assistant principal responsible for co-ordinating Special Needs will arrange the dates for these meetings and record the minutes/outcomes. Everyone attending the meetings will be given copy of the caseload of pupils receiving additional support, which will include:

Names of pupils in each class

Dates of birth

Background information

Current practice

Further suggestions

SEN teacher providing intervention


Individual Educational Programmes are drafted/reviewed/updated following these meetings. Parent-Teacher meetings are held in the first term (November/December) of each school year. Parents are invited at this time to meet with the SEN teacher. However, meetings are arranged to facilitate parents wishing to discuss their children’s progress, at any time during the year.


Role of the classroom teacher: (LS guidelines pg. 42)

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

 A particular responsibility of the class teacher is to create a classroom environment in which learning difficulties can be prevented or at least alleviated. This is best achieved by grouping pupils for instruction, providing lower achieving pupils with strategies for reading and problem solving, adapting learning materials for lower-achieving pupils and liaising closely with their parents.

Where a pupil is selected to receive supplementary teaching, it is essential that the class teacher should contribute to developing the learning targets in the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme and to the planning and implementation of activities designed to attain those targets. Where supplementary teaching cannot be provided for a pupil, or is being phased out or discontinued, the class teacher will need to develop and implement a support programme that meets the pupil’s changing needs, in consultation with the learning support teacher.


In the Classroom:


Pupils with SEN require an environment which is well organised and predictable and a programme which is presented clearly and with abundant opportunities for success.

Pupils with SEN will participate and be facilitated to access all areas of the curriculum.

Realistic learning goals and expectations will be adopted in relation to the pupil’s overall progress. Adaptations to the curriculum, outcomes, activities, and resource materials will be made through the use of differentiation (see sheet on Differentiation attached). The teacher will vary the use of strategies to meet the learning needs of the pupils with SEN. Where the pupil is unable to participate in the class curriculum, an individual programme of work will be designed for the pupil in consultation with the SEN teacher. Depending on the level of need an SNA will be assigned to the class at certain periods to assist the class teacher in her work. The teacher and SNA will encourage active participation by the pupil in the class. There will be a balance between the provision for the pupil’s academic and social needs. ICT may be used to further facilitate the pupil’s learning.

Certain pupils may have a recommendation for an exemption from Irish; however parents must request this exemption and give their consent in writing to the principal. Homework is allocated by the class teacher in consultation with the parents appropriate to the child’s ability. The SEN teacher will not set homework for the pupil.  


The staged approach:


The SEN team with the principal, assistant principal assigned responsibility for the co-ordination of Special Needs in the school and relevant teachers adopt a staged approach to intervention (see model of Staged Approached on following page). If concern remains after intervention and additional support from the teacher and SEN team, the school may request a consultation and assessment of the pupil’s need from a specialist outside the school.

 Where this is the case, the parents’ permission in writing will be sought to do so. If the parents refuse to give their permission for a pupil to receive extra support, a written record of their decision, signed by parents will be kept in the child’s file. Should parents refuse to give their consent to have a pupil assessed the Board of Management may apply to the Circuit Court for an order to have the pupil assessed.



Learning support:


Junior & Senior Infants test results are examined in June in order to identify pupils who are at risk (phonics tests, vocabulary tests). Pupils who obtain a percentile score of 12 or less in the Micra T are timetabled for learning support the following year. Class teachers’ observations and concerns are also used to identify pupils at risk. They are discussed at the SEN meetings held throughout the year. Literacy skills (phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency) are the primary focus of the teaching. Learning support teaching may be conducted either out of class or in class.


Resource teaching:


Pupils are allocated resource hours from the SENO using the low incidence model. The parents of the child are met and their permission in sought before the child is timetabled. The SEN teacher in consultation with the parents, class teacher and other professionals working with the child designs an IEP. The IEP will identify specific areas of need for the child and these will be incorporated into his/her scheme of work.

The child is timetabled for resource teaching in September in consultation with the class teacher.

Resource teaching may be conducted either out of class or in class.


Traveller education:


Pupils from the Travelling Community are fully included in mainstream classes. With permission from the parents, pupils from the travelling community receive additional support from the SEN team according to their needs.


 Role of the special education needs(sen) teacher:


The SEN teacher provides additional support for pupils with educational needs. The teacher identifies the pupil’s strengths and needs, teaching strategies specific to the learning needs of the pupil, sets targets, and plans a scheme of work to be covered in each of the 3 school terms. This is done in consultation with the class teacher and parents. The SEN teacher supports the class teacher in their work


Role of the special needs assistant(sna):


The SNA’s work under the direction and supervision of the class teachers in order to help promote effective learning and teaching. Their role is as follows:

·         To contribute to the effective organisation and use of resources

·         To contribute to the quality of care and welfare of pupils

·         To support the needs of pupils in effectively accessing the curriculum

·         To support the quality of learning and teaching in the classroom


Outside agencies:

The principal will oversee the referral process in the case of a psychological assessment. The principal contacts the NEPS psychologist and a meeting is arranged. The pupil(s) selected for assessment are discussed at this meeting. The psychologist timetables the pupil for assessment. When the assessment is completed the parents, principal and teacher are informed of the results. If the child has a special need under the low incidence category, the principal will contact the SENO in order to apply for resource teaching. In the case of a referral for a speech and language or occupational assessment, the SEN teacher who takes the child for additional support will obtain permission from the parents and refer the child to the appropriate service in writing. 







A Staged Approach to Meeting the Needs of Pupils with Special Educational Needs



Personnel Involved

Stage 1

Class teacher/parent has concerns regarding a pupil’s academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development

Class teacher informs one of the teachers on the Special Needs team and in consultation with this teacher administers appropriate screening measures. Class teacher devises a plan, which aims to meet pupil’s identified needs within the normal classroom setting. The success of this plan is regularly reviewed in consultation with parents and termly with the Special Needs team.

·        Class teacher

·        Parent

·        Special Needs team


Additional Supports Available

·        Principal

·        NEPS Psychologist

If concern remains after a number of reviews, the Special Education Support Team in the School may make a decision to move to Stage 2

Stage 2

Child is referred to learning support teacher, with parental permission for further diagnostic testing.


If diagnostic testing indicates that supplementary teaching would be beneficial, this is arranged. Parent, class teacher and learning support teacher collaborate in devising, implementing and reviewing the pupil’s learning plan.

·        Class teacher

·        Parent

·        Special Needs team

Additional Supports Available

·        Health Board

·        NEPS Psychologist

·        Other Support Staff and Services available to school

If significant concerns remain after a number of reviews, it may be necessary to implement Stage 3

Stage 3

School formally requests a consultation, and, where appropriate, an assessment of need from a specialist outside the school.

A learning plan is devised by personnel involved, which includes identification of any additional available resources that are considered necessary in order to implement the plan. Parents should be fully consulted throughout this process. This learning plan should be subject to regular reviews, leading to revisions of the learning plan and referral for specialist review as necessary.


Any private practitioner engaged by Shanballymore National School at Stage 3 will have the relevant Department of Education and Science Circulars and guidance notes drawn to their attention.

·        Class teacher

·        Parent

·        Special Needs team

·        Relevant Specialist


Additional Supports Available


  • NEPS Psychologist
  • Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments
  • Speech and Language Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Paediatrician
  • Art Therapist etc.




Individual educational plans and group educational plans

Individual Educational Plans:

An IEP will be designed specifically for each pupil who has been allocated resource hours under the low incidence model of allocation. The IEP will reflect what is different and unique about the pupil. It will be linked to the curriculum and focus on clear relevant targets. The IEP will be designed in consultation and collaboration with the class teacher, parents, and other professionals working with the child.


Group Educational Plans:


The SEN teachers for children who have been selected for learning support, language support or additional support will design Educational Plans.


Record keeping:


Only one copy of each child’s psychological, speech and language, occupational or other assessments are kept in the child’s file in the principal’s office to ensure confidentiality. The assessments and reports are stored in the school for a period of 9 years from once the child leaves the school.


Approaches to involving parents and outside personnel:


Parents are invited to meet the SEN teacher in September to discuss the needs of the pupil with Special Needs and the nature and content of the intervention. Parents are free at any time to make an appointment with the class teacher, SEN teacher or principal to discuss any concerns they may have. Parent/teacher meetings will be held in November/December of each year.

As regards other personnel, the SEN teacher will make arrangements to meet the specialist involved to obtain and share information regarding the pupil, which may aid the SEN teacher when planning the schemes of work. Outside personnel (occupational therapist, physiotherapist) may visit the school on a regular basis to provide intervention to a particular child. The SEN teacher will liaise with these personnel on a regular basis and may attend the session.


Procedures for Provision of Resources for Pupils with SEN:

On recommendation from a specialist, specialised equipment and resources for pupils with SEN may be purchased by school (with permission by the Board of Management) or loaned by an organisation providing a service to the pupil. The SEN teacher will be responsible for the equipment. SEN teachers will share their experience and expertise with class teachers. Class teachers will have access to resources from the SEN team should they wish.


Training for teachers/staff:

 Training for parents, teachers, SNAs and other staff is arranged when required.


Approaches to timetabling:

The SEN team liaise with the class teachers in September in order to draw up a timetable for provision of resource and learning support.


Work Schedule of the SEN teachers:

The caseload for additional resource, learning support, and language support will be divided and decided on by the SEN team following analysis of test results in June and early September.


Health and Safety:

All appropriate measures are taken to ensure the safety of each pupil with SEN. Depending on the severity of need all staff members will be informed and alerted to possible hazards. To ensure the safety of pupils with SEN on the schoolyard, the Special Needs Assistants are present for the duration of yards breaks along with the teachers on duty. Should a pupil with acute safety needs enrol in the school, the health and safety policy will be reviewed for that pupil.


Administration of medicine:

Shanballymore National School does not administer medicine to pupils within the school. Parents may administer medicine to their child on the school grounds if it is necessary. Medical information is recorded on the enrolment form.


Code of Behaviour: (see the policy)

In general pupils with SEN will follow the code of behaviour throughout the school. In extenuating circumstances where a pupil has a behavioural disorder, an individual behaviour management plan will be drawn up by the principal, class teacher, SEN teacher, SNA and parents. The team when implementing the personal behaviour plan may devise personal rewards and sanctions.



Transfer to post-primary:

It is the duty of the parents of the pupil(s) with SEN to inform the post-primary school of their child’s needs. Written consent from the parents will be sought prior to forwarding of assessments/reports to the post-primary school..




“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer” (Henry David Thoreau)


The term differentiation is used to describe the various strategies teachers use to enable groups of students with diverse learning characteristics to participate in the mainstream programme.

(Westwood, 2003, P.202)


…teaching things differently according to observed differences among learners

(Westwood, 2003, P.202)


The term ‘differentiation’ refers to the method whereby the teacher varies content, activities, methodology and resources when taking into account the range of interests, needs and experience of the students. It is a process that allows for variation in pace, amount, content, level and method of curriculum presentation to ensure that learning experiences are appropriate for all students. It is particularly important in meeting the challenges of those with special educational needs.

(NCAA 2002, Draft Guidelines for Teachers of Students with Mild General Learning disabilities, P.20)


Planning Differentiation

  • Select the topic to be taught
  • Identify the specific content to be included
  • Identify learning goals and objectives for the majority of students in the class
  • Decide on the way the lesson will be organised and conducted for most students
  • Identify students who will need modifications to the general lesson format
  • Prepare any necessary adaptations
  • Teaching the lesson, and making any necessary additional changes while teaching
  • Providing extra assistance to certain students while the lesson is in progress
  • Planning appropriate methods for assessing students’ learning, based on the goals and objectives.


When planning the differentiated objectives, it is usually helpful to have in mind the following three sentence starters:

  • All students will…
  • Some students will…
  • A few students might…

This helps teachers to identify the essential core of knowledge all students will master through differentiated activities.

Some students will achieve more than this

A few may carry out extended activities to increase learning


Modification of Curriculum Content

·         Students with learning difficulties are required to cover less material

·         The tasks or activities they complete may be easier to accomplish

·         More able students may cover more material and in greater depth

·         The nature of learning tasks set for students will be matched to their learning rate hand abilities

·         Differentiated content for homework can be used as one way of meeting the needs of pupils of all abilities


Differentiation by resource

  • Simplify language when necessary
  • Provide illustrations or diagrams
  • Remove unnecessary detail
  • Use cues or prompts where responses are required from students

Adapting Instruction

As a result of differentiation, there will be changes in both teaching and learning polices. Some of the following strategies may be used:

  • The teacher may give more or less assistance to individual students, depending on their needs
  • The teacher may reteach some concepts to some students using simpler language and more examples
  • Questions asked during the lesson may be pitched at different levels of difficulty for different pupils
  • Closer monitoring of the work of some pupils may take place throughout the lesson
  • The teacher may use particular tactics to gain and maintain the interest of poorly motivated pupils
  • Feedback may be given in more or less detail, according to the students’ needs
  • The rate at which the students are expected to work may be varied, with extra time allowed for some students to complete tasks
  • Extension and independent work may be set for more able students 




Policy for the Provision of Traveller Education

Diversity and difference characterises the society in which children live. A respect for and appreciation of human and cultural diversity is promoted and celebrated in Shanballymore National School. The mission statement of the school states that

“Each child through positive learning experiences will be stimulated to achieve his/her full potential, face life confidently, find fulfilment and be respectful in an ever-changing world”.

The education of traveller pupils in the school sets out to fulfil the ideals presented in the above statement.


Aims of Traveller Education:

         The traveller pupil will add to the existing diversity of the school, contribute to the learning experiences of all pupils, and leave the school proud of his/her own cultural identity

         To provide an opportunity for pupils from varying backgrounds to develop their full potential in an atmosphere conducive to their needs, where they will feel accepted, encouraged, respected and supported.


Promoting the culture of the Travelling Community:

Shanballymore National School endeavours to acknowledge and celebrate the culture of the Travelling community throughout the school in the following ways:

  • Displaying posters and artwork in the corridors and classrooms that reflect the diversity of the school population
  • Ensuring that textbooks and material are free of bias and using materials and books that reflect Traveller culture
  • Providing opportunities for collaborative learning through teaching methodologies
  • Implementing a curriculum that is child-centred and relevant to the different groups in the school
  • Fostering the principles of justice, equality and freedom of expression in all everyday dealings


Traveller identity and the culturally affirmative school:

Traveller culture and lifestyle is acknowledged in the school in the following ways:


  • The school plan has a positive and active policy on the promotion of an inclusive intercultural ethos, including a strong anti-racist and anti-bullying strategy
  • Parents are welcomed into the school at all times
  • Shanballymore National School supports the involvement of parents in all aspects of their child’s school life
  • The Traveller pupil is involved in all activities, listened to and valued, and has a sense of belonging in the school
  • The personal experiences of the pupil are used as a basis on which to develop new learning experiences


In the Classroom:

  • Pupils from the Travelling Community are fully included in mainstream classes.
  • Traveller pupils are placed in age-appropriate classes.
  • Traveller pupils participate in all aspects of the Revised Primary School Curriculum.
  • With parental consent, pupils from the travelling community receive additional support from the SEN team according to their needs.


Transfer between schools:

  • When a pupil transfers to Shanballymore National School from another school, Shanballymore National School will contact the previous school to inform them of the pupil’s enrolment.
  • If a pupil leaves Shanballymore National School to go to another school; the pupil will be marked absent on the roll, until such time as the school is notified that the pupil is enrolled in another school.
  • When a pupil to post-primary education, with parental consent copies of assessments/reports will be forwarded to the relevant post-primary school.


See policy on Assessment and policy for pupils with SEN



Priorities for the Education of Traveller Pupils


As highlighted in the Survey of Traveller Education Provision, poor attendance of traveller pupils in Irish primary schools was recorded. It will be a priority of the school to improve the attendance of traveller pupils. Parents need to realise that there will be follow-up from the school in instances of absenteeism. Parents will be encouraged to make greater efforts to ensure their children are attending regularly. Regular attendance by pupils will be rewarded and the pupils will act as role models for other traveller pupils in the school. Traveller parents need to be convinced of the value of education. Involving parents in school life, communicating, and keeping in regular contact with them is essential also to help convince them of the value of school.


Monitoring and Reviewing this Policy:

Monitoring of the Special Needs, Learning Support and Resource Provision Policy is an on-going and developmental process.

The whole school staff of this school will discuss this policy at least once per year at a staff meeting and review as necessary.