Sen Policy

Divine Mercy SNS.,



Co. Dublin.

Roll Number:  20187H

Introductory Statement

This draft policy on Special Education in Divine Mercy SNS, was initially formulated by the Special Education Team, during the year 2008/2009. It was reviewed in January 2015 given the changes in personnel on the advice from professionals involved in the school.This draft policy was discussed and further developed by the teaching staff of the school.


Divine Mercy SNS is a mixed senior school catering for approximately five hundred and fifty six pupils from third to sixth class. The children are aged between nine and thirteen years. There are thirty seven teachers, including the principal, twenty four class teachers, eleven special education teachers and one teacher of English as a second language. In addition, seven Special Needs Assistants serve the needs of individual children. The secretary and caretaker assist in the running of the school.

This school serves the needs of children from the parish of Lucan South and the surrounding areas. We aim to provide an appropriate education for each child, recognising the special educational needs of individual children. We wish to enable each pupil to realise his/her potential through access to a suitable curriculum.

The policy hopes to cater for the enrolment of pupils with special educational needs, to comply with legislation and department circulars and to assist parents in making an informed decision in relation to the enrolment of their children.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

Divine Mercy SNS wishes to serve each child in our community, welcoming the challenge to diverse needs and acknowledging the enrichment this will bring.

We aim

  • To promote a positive outlook and enthusiasm in each child by developing thinking skills, ability to communicate and knowledge of literacy and numeracy.
  • To empower young pupils in Divine Mercy SNS to become independent learners
  • To prioritise ‘early intervention’
  • To optimise the opportunities of every child to benefit from the curriculum, by catering to the special requirements of children in greatest needs
  • To develop self-esteem and positive attitudes about school and learning in pupils
  • To involve parents in supporting their children
  • To promote collaboration among teachers and other interested parties in the implementation of school policies


Divine Mercy SNS has been to the forefront in providing inclusive education for its pupils over the past 10 years, welcoming children with special education needs from Balgaddy and surrounding areas. Staff understanding has increased about practical measures to ensure the best possible result for all its pupils. The policy provides a frame work for implementing methods which are agreed as relevant and operable in this school. It allows equality of participation for all schools full range of curricular and extra-curricular activities.

When planning for this we will consider the following:

  • Pupil welfare
  • Classroom management
  • Environmental modifications
  • Curriculum
  • Management issues
  • Staff development(supported and encouraged by the Board of Management during and after school)
  • Parent roles
  • School community
  • Evaluation
  • Other

Practical Steps for Inclusion in the Classroom

  • Differentiated goals
  • Different materials
  • Grouping
  • Personal support
  • Alternative tasks
  • Visual timetables
  • Structured teaching approaches
  • Augmentative communication
  • IT
  • In class support provided by SEN team.

All staff members are made aware of strategies to include children with special needs

  • At all staff meetings
  • Meetings before and after school (subject to availability)
  • Informally
  • Croke Park In-service
  • Teacher’s own CPD.

Staff Roles and Responsibilities

It is important that the Board of Management, Principal, Special Education and Class Teachers, Parents and Special Needs Assistants are involved in planning and implementing the learning programme. This is achieved across a continuum from liaising to collaborating as appropriate. Regular consultation will be facilitated by the Principal. Teamwork is crucial in achieving results.

Role of Class Teacher

The class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all children in his/her class, including those receiving supplementary teaching

She/he should

  • Implement teaching programmes which optimise the achievement of all pupils, identifying, as far as possible, the emergence of learning difficulties
  • Administrator and score screening measures, including checklists and profiles in specific areas
  • Where incipient weakness is noticed, advise parents and draw up a simple plan for implementation within the main class. This plan will be in conjunction with the continuum of support model. Review and adapt if necessary.
  • If concerns still remain, liaise with the SEN team, seek permission from parents regarding diagnostic testing. Outline to parents the specialist support available.
  • Collaborate with the SEN team in developing the individual (IEP) or group (GEP) education plan by providing evidence of strengths, attainments and needs, suggesting starting points of intervention, attending (where possible) meetings with parents and other interested parties and agreeing appropriate targets.
  • Differentiate main class activities to help achieve agreed targets for the child. The following approaches are advised
  • Group teaching
  • Modification of presentation and questioning techniques
  • Placing emphasis on specific teaching to develop oral language
  • Giving extra tuition in basic skills
  • Varying methodologies
  • Providing activities which are suitably challenging
  • Carrying out ‘error analysis’ on pupils work to pinpoint greatest needs
  • Review plan with parents and SEN team regularly

The key to successful intervention within the school is the collaboration of class and support teachers

Role of Special Education Teachers

According to the Learning Support Guidelines (2000) the main role of the SEN teacher is to provide supplementary teaching to pupils, either in class or withdrawal. There should be a planned implementation of approaches, involving the class and SEN teacher. Discussion of these areas with school staff, as a group, should take place at least once per year while consultation between class teachers and SEN teacher should occur on a regular basis.

Activities should include

  • Supporting implementation of whole school strategies to enhance early learning and prevent difficulties.
  • Developing IEP and GEP for pupils selected for supplementary teaching in consultation with teachers, parents and other professionals.
  • Monitoring and recording achievement of learning targets
  • Delivering intensive early intervention in key areas of language, literacy, mathematics and social skills
  • Co-ordinating procedures for selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, in line with criteria specified in school plan
  • Contributing to development of policy on Special Education in the school
  • Collaborating with class teachers regarding assessment, programme and classroom, approaches to teaching of language skills, literacy and mathematics for pupils in need
  • Contributing to decision making regarding purchase of learning resources and books to be made available to pupils with learning difficulties, in the main class
  • Co-ordinating provisions of Special Education Support in the school
  • Liaising with other relevant agencies/professionals, promoting the welfare of each child
  • Presenting in-service during Croke Park hours
  • Involvement in school Care Team
  • Liaising with previous schools and teachers in relation to pupil transfer of information
  • Analysing of standardised test scores
  • Attending in-service when appropriate
  • Liaising with second level schools
  • Liaising with SENO regarding provisions/resources for students with SEN

SEN Teacher and Principal

Should work closely to develop and implement the school’s programme

  • SEN teacher advise Principal on issues related to planning of services
  • Meet with Principal at least once per month to discuss development and implementation of school plan
  • Advise on relevant issues on a day to day basis
  • Liaising with Principal in relation to goals set in the pupil’s IEP

Role of SEN Teacher in Collaboration with Class Teacher is to

  • Implement school policy on identifying learning difficulties
  • Administer and interpret results of diagnostic assessments
  • Provide supplementary teaching and other support deemed appropriate, both in class and on a withdrawal basis
  • Develop and implement main class programmes as outlined in the child’s IEP or GEP
  • Monitor and review attainment of learning targets
  • Continue to liaise where necessary, around children whose supplementary teaching has been reduced or ended


Role of SEN Teacher in Collaborating with Parents is

  • Provide general information about special education services in the school
  • Meet with parents of pupils selected for diagnostic assessment
  • Discuss strengths and priority learning needs of child, which includes targets and teaching methods
  • Discuss strategies by which parent will best support their child’s progress
  • Communicate with parent to provide feedback and encouragement
  • Review attainment at end of term to provide basis for next plan, which may involve discontinuation of supplementary teaching
  • Advise parents when a child may need professional support from other agencies
  • Support parents in times of formal assessment from outside agencies
  • Advise parents of appropriate secondary school placements

SEN Teacher: Co-ordinating selection of Pupils for Supplementary Teaching

  • Collaborates with class teacher in implementing the Continuum of Support approach
  • Co-ordinates administration by class teachers of screening programmes
  • Consults with class teacher on identification of children in need of diagnostic assessment
  • Liaises with class teacher regarding Stage 1 of the staged approach to assessment
  • Carry out diagnostic assessment (see appendix)

Role of Parents

Parents are the primary educators of the children by providing a home environment conducive to the cognitive, language, social, emotional, personal, aesthetic, creative and physical development of the child. The collaboration of teachers and parents is vitally important in situations where a child requires learning support. We encourage parents to support learning progress by

  • Talking positively about school to their child
  • Modelling involvement in learning activities at home and outside
  • Taking their child on visits to places of interest
  • Storytelling, reciting rhymes
  • Reading to and with their child
  • Writing with their child
  • Doing mathematical activities using resources from the home environment
  • Using IT to support school work
  • Being available to discuss learning needs of their child with teacher as identified in diagnostic assessment
  • Implementing home based activities agreed upon in IEP or GEP
  • Keeping teacher informed of progress they observe in their child’s learning
  • Discussing difficulties encountered as they arise
  • Meeting with teacher to review progress at the end of term
  • Contributing to school plan on special education and learning support
  • Being involved in parents associations as appropriate
  • Informing class teacher of any personal issues or home life situations which may be impacting on their learning

Pupils Planning and Monitoring Own Learning/Self Assessment

The child becomes a more independent learner if he/she is aware of the next step in learning. Children should

  • Be aware of the target in a given activity
  • Monitor success at his/her level
  • Choose from given range of materials and books
  • Be aware of the skills applied which brought success
  • Contribute to evaluating their own performance
  • Set some of their own targets for the IEP
  • Use SALF folders as a medium of self assessment

Involvement of Outside Agencies

Speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists have a role to play in supporting children with special needs to develop their learning potential. They should

  • Be available for diagnostic assessments within a reasonable time
  • Provide in-service during Croke Park hours
  • Provide ongoing support by discussing any difficulties as they arise
  • Be given the opportunity to use the school for multidisciplinary meetings
  • Provide programmes of work for students
  • Involve the school in any meetings set with parents

Whole School Strategies for Identifying and Supporting Children with Learning Difficulties

As a staff Divine Mercy SNS

  • Has agreed approaches to language, literacy and mathematical development as included in yearly schemes, to ensure continuity through the school
  • Is providing additional support in core subject areas
  • Is observing, monitoring, assessing the educational progress of each child
  • Implements where possible whole school/parent involvement focusing on core skills
  • Differentiates in class situation
  • Provides additional resources and materials for language, reading and mathematics
  • Whole School Policy, language development, collaborate reading projects
  • Guided Reading projects
  • Maths for fun
  • Comprehension Programme – Building Bridges
  • Oral Language Programme

Screening, Assessment and Reporting

Selection of pupils

There will be preliminary screening of children’s progress in all classes. Following intervention of Stage 1 (circular SP ED 02/05), parental permission is sought for further assistance involving SEN teacher.

Stage 1

A class teacher or parent may have concerns about academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development of certain pupils.

The class teacher will then draw up a short, simple plan for extra help to be implemented within normal classroom setting, in the relevant areas of learning and/or behavioural management. The success of the classroom support plan will be reviewed regularly, with appropriate parental involvement. If concerns remain after a number of reviews and adaptations to the plan, the special education support team or the learning support/resource teacher in the school will be consulted about the desirability of intervention at stage II.

Stage II

If intervention is considered necessary, then the pupil will be referred to the learning support/resource teacher, with parents’ permission, for further diagnostic testing. If this diagnostic assessment suggests supplementary teaching would be beneficial, it will be arranged. The parents and the class teacher will be involved with the learning support/resource teacher in drawing up the learning programme, which will include appropriate interventions for implementation in the home, in the classroom, and during supplementary teaching.

The learning support/resource teacher and the class teacher will review the rate of progress of each pupil receiving supplementary teaching and communicate with parents. If significant concerns remain after a number of reviews and adaptations to the learning programme, then it may be necessary to provide interventions at Stage III.

In the case of pupils with emotional or behavioural difficulties, it is recognised that, with serious difficulties, more urgent action may be needed. In these cases the pupil’s needs will, with parents’ permission, be discussed with the relevant NEPS psychologist and/or the case should be referred to the clinical services of the Health Services Executive. This may lead to a more detailed behavioural management programme to be implemented at home and in class, or to referral for further specialist assessment (Stage III) 

Stage III

Some pupils who continue to present with significant learning needs will require more intensive intervention at stage 111. The school may formally request a consultation and, where appropriate, an assessment of need from a specialists outside the school in respect of pupils with learning difficulties or with mild or moderate behavioural problems. Such specialist advice may be sought from psychologists, paediatricians, speech and language therapists, audiologists etc. In respect of children who have failed to make sufficient progress, the learning support/resource teacher, and the class teacher, in consultation with the relevant specialists will then draw up a learning programme that includes identification of any additional available resources that are considered necessary in order to implement the programme. The parents will be informed throughout the process. This programme will be the subject of regular reviews, leading to revisions of the learning programme and referral for specialist review, as necessary.

In the case of pupils identified at an early stage, as having very significant special education needs, intervention at Stage III will be necessary on their entry to school. Support in the classroom will be an essential component of any learning programme devised for such pupils and primary responsibility for the pupil will remain with the class teacher, in consultation with the learning support/resource teacher.

Diagnostic Assessment May Include

  • Micra T
  • Sigma T
  • Basic Numeracy Screening Test
  • Dolch first 120 High Frequency Words
  • Ballard and Westwood
  • Parallel Spelling Test
  • DRA
  • WRAT
  • WIAT II for Teachers


A list of SEN resources used in the school is contained in Appendix 2. Suitability of these resources has been evaluated for specific purposes and is updated as necessary.

Intervention: In order of Priority

  • Those children granted ‘resource teaching’ hours by DES
  • Children whose performance is below the 12th percentile in English
  • Children identified through early intervention indicators in English
  • Children who score on or below the 12th percentile in Maths

Parents’ Permission

A letter is sent home inviting parents to meet the SEN teacher and discuss the priority needs of the child.

Review of Child’s Progress

  • Supplementary teaching will normally be discontinued after consultation with class teachers and when requested by parents.
  • Revised learning targets are agreed in the case of children in need of ongoing support

Code of Behaviour

The whole school policy for behaviour is based on D.F.L.

Transfer to Secondary School

Transfer is facilitated by

  • Liaison between the teaching staff of both schools where links exist
  • Prior visit by each child
  • Passing on the relevant schools reports, test results and documentation where necessary
  • Passing on of outside agency reports with parental permission


The SPHE programme is ideally suited to fostering of integration by

  • Cooperative games
  • Circle time
  • Drama activities
  • Collaborative learning
  • Social skills training

Success Criteria

The practical indicators of success of this policy will be

  • Inclusion of pupils with special needs
  • Progress of pupils as indicated by improved assessment results
  • Increased opportunities for effective communication between school personnel
  • Enhanced parental involvement

The achievement of these success criteria will be assessed through feedback from teachers, pupils and parents

Ratification of Policy

To be agreed by the Board of Management______________________________

Implementation of Policy

The implementations of this policy will commence______________________________

Review of Policy

Review of this policy at a staff meeting at the end of the year____and every year thereafter.