Special Educational Needs Policy

Continuum of Support for Children with Special Educational Needs Policy

Guiding Principles

All our children have a right to an education, which is appropriate to them as individuals. We want all our children to feel that they are a valued part of our school community. As far as possible, therefore, it is our aim to minimise the difficulties that children may experience. We aim to achieve this by adopting three principles that are essential to developing a more inclusive curriculum.


We are fully committed to the principle of inclusion and the good practice, which makes it possible. Our policy, as set out in this document, aims to enable children with SEN, traveller children and children whose first language is not English, to become fully integrated members of our school community. This will be achieved through the continuum of support model, by careful consideration of the needs of each child and by either modifying activities or by providing support that will help the child to participate in them.

Three Principles for Inclusion

Setting Suitable Learning Challenges

We aim to give every child the opportunity to experience success in learning and to achieve as high a standard as possible. 

Responding to Children’s Diverse Learning Needs

We take into account the different backgrounds, experiences, interests and strengths that influence the way in which children learn when we plan our approaches to teaching and learning.

Overcoming Potential Barriers to Learning and Assessment for Individuals and Groups of Children

We recognise that a minority of children will have particular learning and assessment requirements that will create barriers to learning if we do not address them through special arrangements.

In making provision for children with special needs our policy objectives are:

  • To ensure that our duties, as set out in The Education Act 1998, Equal Status Act 2000, Education Welfare Act 2000 and Education for Persons with Disabilities Act 2004, are fully met, to enable children with special educational needs to join in the normal activities of the school along with children who do not have special educational needs
  • To ensure that all children gain access to a broad and balanced curriculum and have an equal opportunity to receive an education that is appropriate to their needs
  • To identify and assess children with special needs as early as possible – Junior Infant Screening Test (unless earlier assessment has been carried out) and Mist Test in Senior Infants
  • To use our resources as efficiently and equitably as possible when assessing and meeting the special educational needs of our children
  • To provide a graduated approach in order to match educational provision to children’s needs
  • To develop a partnership with parents/carers in order that their knowledge, views and experience can assist us in assessing and providing for their children
  • To take into account the ascertainable wishes of the children concerned and, whenever possible, directly involve them in decision making in order to provide more effectively for them
  • To ensure collaboration with the Department of Education & Skills in order to take effective action on behalf of children with special needs
  • To ensure that all staff are aware of their responsibilities towards children with special needs and are able to exercise them
  • To monitor our effectiveness in achieving the above objectives.

Continuum of Support Team 

The Continuum of Support (C.O.S.) Team consists of the Principal, Continuum of Support (COS) Coordinator, COS teachers and S.N.A.s where applicable.

  • Principal – Ian Lane

The Principal has overall responsibility for the day-to-day management of provision. S/he will work closely with the SEN co-ordinator and will keep the BoM informed about the working of this policy. S/he will encourage members of staff to participate in training to help them meet the objectives of this policy. In consultation with the SEN co-ordinator, s/he will liaise with the SENO with regard to support hours and is responsible for personnel appointments.  

  • Continuum of Support Co-ordinator – Andy O’Rourke

Continuum of Support Co-ordinator will be responsible for:

  • Overseeing the day-to-day operation of the SEN Policy
  • Co-ordinating provision for children with special educational needs
  • Liaising with and advising fellow teachers and contributing to in service training of staff
  • Liaising with and advising SNAs with regard to supporting children with special needs
  • Liaising with parents of children with special needs
  • Monitoring and evaluating SEN provision
  • Facilitating planning for class teacher with support teacher
  • Collaborating with Assistant SEN coordinator regularly.

  • Assistant COS Co-ordinator – Neasa McGonigle
  • Assisting the co-ordinator in all areas of SEN

Responsibilities of Staff

All staff are fully aware of the content of this policy and of the procedures described below. Appropriate in-service is made available through the Education Centre and SESS. 

The C.O.S. team is deployed according to need and to relevant expertise and commitment. The support teacher works closely with the class teacher providing in-class support for literacy and numeracy. Pupils may be withdrawn from the mainstream class for a specific purpose (e.g. intensive intervention/programme, behavioural/emotional work, speech and language activities) or for a specific length of time.

The C.O.S. Teachers meet regularly with the relevant mainstream teachers and SNAs. As part of this planning meeting, they discuss the nature and focus of support for the children currently receiving additional support. This is an information sharing meeting of these children’s Support Plans Targets.

Board of Management

The BoM will fulfil its statutory duties towards pupils with special needs. It will ensure that the provision required is an integral part of the school development plan. Members will be knowledgeable about the school’s SEN provision – funding, equipment and personnel.


The school aims to meet the needs of any child whom the parent wishes to register at the school as long as a place is available and the admission criteria are fulfilled. The Education For Persons with Disabilities Act 2004 states that ‘A child is entitled to attend the school which is most suited to his or her overall needs’.

Parents are required to notify the school of their child’s special needs in advance of enrolment through the Home School Liaison Teacher. The BoM will request a copy of the child’s medical or psychological report. No child will be refused admission solely on the grounds that s/he has SEN except where the provision required is incompatible with that available in our school.

The C.O.S. Team along, with the Principal and relevant teachers, adopt the C.O.S. approach to intervention. The C.O.S. guidelines encompass a problem-solving approach to understanding and developing interventions for pupils experiencing a range of learning, behavioural, emotional or social difficulties. The needs of pupils with special educational needs can be best considered in terms of a continuum and therefore the support given is also based on a continuum. The Continuum of Support enables schools to identify and respond to needs in a flexible way. This means that needs can be responded to as early as possible. Of course, the principle that pupils with the greatest level of need have access to the greatest levels of support is of primary importance. This approach is also supported by information and engagement with external professionals, as required.

We aim to collect evidence about pupils’ educational needs at each level of the Continuum of Support. This evidence can then be used to adapt teaching, to plan the next steps in pupils’ learning and to gauge their responses to interventions. When data is carefully collected, shared and compared, the COS team can identify and respond to all those pupils who have special educational needs.

Classroom Support: An intervention process co-ordinated by the class teacher and carried out within the classroom
The class teacher considers how to differentiate the learning programme effectively to accommodate the needs of all pupils in the class. A classroom support plan is developed and / or adjusted over time for those pupils who do not respond appropriately to the differentiated programme. This is informed by: ● Parental consultation ● Teacher observation records ● Teacher-designed measures /assessments ● Basic needs checklist● Learning environment checklist● Pupil consultation – My Thoughts About School Checklist ● Literacy and numeracy tests ● Screening tests of language skills A Classroom Support plan runs for an agreed period of time and is subject to review.

School Support: An assessment and intervention process which is usually co-ordinated by the C.O.S. teacher working alongside the class teacher. Interventions at this stage will be additional to those provided through classroom support. At this level a Support Plan is devised and informed by: 
● Teacher observation records ● Teacher-designed measures / assessments ● Parent and pupil interviews ● Learning environment checklist ● Diagnostic assessments in literacy/numeracy ● Formal observation of behaviour including ABC charts, frequency measures ● Functional assessment as appropriate, including screening measure for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties While the classroom teacher retains responsibility for the teaching and learning of the pupil, the C.O.S. teacher will be more formally involved at this stage.

School Support Plus: Intervention for pupils with more complex and/or enduring difficulties, whose progress is considered inadequate, despite carefully planned interventions at the previous levels. The school may request the involvement of relevant external services at this stage in order to carry out more detailed assessments and to develop intervention programmes. This level of the Continuum is informed by a detailed, systematic approach to information gathering and assessment using a broad range of formal and informal assessment tools, reports from outside professionals (as appropriate) and may include: ● Teacher observation and teacher-designed measures ● Parent and pupil interviews ● Functional assessment ● Results of standardised testing such as measures of cognitive ability; social, emotional and behavioural functioning; adaptive functioning etc. Data generated from this process are then used to plan an appropriate intervention and can serve as a baseline against which to map progress. A support plan at this level is likely to be more detailed and individualised, and to include longer term planning and consultation.


Provision for pupils with special educational needs is enhanced through the school’s clear identification processes (outlined above) and careful planning of interventions to address academic and/or personal and social development needs. Identification of needs, planning, target-setting and monitoring of outcomes are essential elements of an integrated and collaborative problem-solving process. The process involves the Class Teacher, Continuum of Support Teachers, Special Needs Assistants, parents, the pupil and relevant professionals. Interventions should draw on evidence-informed practice and the professional knowledge and experience of teachers. These interventions should reflect the priority learning needs of pupils, as well as building on their strengths and interests. Support plans should set out the agreed targets, the resources required, the strategies for implementation and a time-frame for review.

Classroom support is the most common and typically the first response to emerging needs. The starting point for the Classroom Support process is when a teacher and parent(s)/guardian(s) share concerns regarding a student’s learning and/or social development in school. At this point some simple classroom interventions will have already been tried – such as differentiation, adjustments to the learning environment and/or adjustments to teaching style. Concerns, however, will have remained about: ● student skills and/or behaviour that appear to be falling below the typical range for his/her age and appear to be impacting on the student’s learning and/or socialisation ● the student’s response to the simple classroom interventions that have been already tried. These concerns will have suggested that this student has distinct and individual needs that will require a Classroom Support Plan. The next steps to develop a Classroom Support Plan include:● Student Support File is opened by the class teacher on Aladdin. ● Concerns are recorded, as well as the student’s strengths and interests. This step in the process may be informed by the data gathered when completing some/all of the Support Checklist. ● Ideas are discussed with regard to strategies/interventions to address the student’s needs within the classroom. ● A Support Plan is drawn up and signed by the class teacher and parent(s)/guardian(s) and implemented for an agreed time span. The plan is reviewed on an on-going basis ● Targets are reviewed at minimum every 6 weeks. The Classroom Support Plan, together with C.S. Target reviews checklists used, and other related documents (such as a records of consultation with the NEPS psychologist) will be kept within Student Support File – a file specifically allocated for that particular student – allowing the school to track the student’s progress and needs over time. 

While most student’s initial needs will be met through classroom based interventions, in some cases interventions at Classroom Support level are not sufficient to fully meet the student’s educational needs. A School Support Plan may be needed. The decision to initiate a School Support Plan is usually taken as a result of the review of a Classroom Support Plan, by the class teacher and parent(s)/guardian(s), in collaboration with the COS teacher(s) in the school. Steps in developing a Support Plan ● The concerned teacher(s), parent(s)/guardian(s), and COS teacher(s) share and record ongoing concerns regarding the student’s progress in school, as well as noting the student’s strengths and interests. ● The concerned teacher is required to involve the COS teacher in the problem-solving process at this point. ● The School Support Plan will be informed by a more systematic gathering of information about the student, which may include diagnostic assessment and observation of the student’s learning and/or behavioural/emotional/social skills.● This step in the process may be informed by data gathered when completing the Support Checklist. ● The School Support Plan is co-ordinated by the COS teacher. ● The School Support Plan is drawn up in collaboration with concerned teacher/ support teacher(s) and parent(s)/guardian(s) and implemented for an agreed time span. ● Targets are reviewed every 6 weeks (minimum) , with a SSP Review Record taken. The plans targets are reviewed on an on-going basis at Team Meetings. The School Support Plan, together with reviews, checklists used and other related documents (such as a record of consultation with the NEPS psychologist), will add to the body of information that is already contained within the Student Support File – a file specifically for that particular student. This allows the school to continue to track the student’s progress and needs over time. 

The School Support Plus process will be initiated if, in reviewing the Support Plan, it is agreed that the student is not making adequate progress, despite purposeful efforts. ● Evidence of same is added to child’s support file. This process will generally involve external professionals and support services in a more detailed problem solving process. It is expected that the students who are receiving support at the level of School Support Plus, will be those with greatest need. Students needing support at this level will have their needs and interventions detailed and monitored in a School Support Plus Plan. ● The School Support Plus Plan is co-ordinated by the COS teacher. ● A review of work already done at the levels of Classroom Support and School Support, and contained within the Student Support File, will provide important information for this School Support Plus Plan. ● The School Support Plus Plan, together with reports from other professionals, consultation records and other relevant documents, will add to the body of information that is already contained within the Student Support File – allowing the school to continue to track the student’s progress and needs over time. ● The School Support Plus Plan is drawn up in collaboration with concerned teacher/ support teacher(s) and parent(s)/guardian(s), relevant professionals (as applicable), and implemented for an agreed time span. ● SSP Targets are reviewed every 6 weeks (minimum) and a copy of the target Review Record is shared with parents.


Targets must be as specific as possible. B.C.C Targets (Behaviour-Condition-Criteria) and SMART Targets (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timed) are used to guide formulation and review of all School Support Plans Targets. 

● Targets are reviewed at minimum of every 6 weeks. 

● Through discussion, parents, staff (and pupils if relevant) may agree that targets have been consistently met and the child would no longer benefit from the level of support being received, a support file review is completed.


In view of substantial international evidence that early intervention and prevention programmes can lead to improved outcomes for pupils; the following early intervention and prevention strategies are in place in St Patrick’s BNS Ringsend; 

  • Team planning 
  • Co-operative team teaching, e.g. Station teaching, alternate teaching, one teaches and one assists/supports etc. 

● Junior Classes – Play based curriculum (Aistear, A balanced approach to Literacy Development in Early Years. 

● Senior Classes – Accelerated Reader (Children’s reading progresses at their own rate), project work, Maths Whizz (children’s maths skills and concepts are practised and reinforced at their own pace and level.

● Programmes to support behavioural and emotional needs (Incredible Years Programme, Zones of Regulation and Weaving Wellbeing to be introduced in 2020, Lauren Brukner (Regulating Emotions and senses) 

● Anti-Bullying Policy and Programme 

● Advice from COS team / Principal 

● NCSE / SESS / NEPS courses 

● NEPs support / unanimous advice.

Stages of Assessment and Provision

Access to the school’s broad and balanced curriculum is achieved for most children by differentiation of class work by the class teacher. When a class teacher, or home school liaison teacher, identifies a child with SEN, the class teacher consults with the SEN co-ordinator/assistant co-ordinator and provides interventions that are ADDITIONAL TO or DIFFERENT FROM those provided as part of the school’s usual differentiated curriculum. The first line of responsibility for the progress of all pupils in the class lies with the class teacher. However, as most of our support is in-class, the stages are less defined than in situations where learning support is delivered by withdrawal. 

Individual Education Plan

Based on Psychologist’s report, tests, Record of Differentiation and School Action Plan, the class teacher with the support teacher, SNA (if assigned), parents and representatives of outside agencies (if necessary) formulate an Individual Education Plan.

These IEPs, which employ a small – steps approach, feature significantly in the provision that we make in school. By breaking down the existing levels of attainment into finely graded targets, we ensure that the child experiences success. 

This plan includes:

  • The nature and degree of the child’s abilities and skills
  • The degree of the child’s special needs
  • The present level of performance
  • Services to be provided
  • Services for transition to 2nd level school where appropriate
  • The goals, which the child is to achieve over a period of half a year.

The strategies set out in the IEP will, as far as possible, be implemented in the normal classroom setting.

The management of the IEP strategies will be the responsibility of the class teacher, support teacher and the SEN co-ordinator.


The SEN co-ordinator will ensure that the review is conducted at the end of three months (October, February, and May). The class teacher consults with the support teacher, the child (and SNA if appointed). They agree on the expected outcomes of the IEP. A draft copy is formulated and sent home to the child’s parents. The parents are invited to attend a meeting to discuss or make recommendations to the draft review if they so wish. Again, outside agencies may play a part in formulating the final copy. The review will be recorded on the IEP Review form.

Where progress is unsatisfactory, it may be decided that the child remains at their current level on the continuum of support. Where progress is satisfactory, and where the child is consistently achieving targets over the stated time, a decision will be made to revert previous level of support(school/classroom support).  The review in May will be to formulate an IEP, which will be part of the plan for the next teacher in September. It will be carried out as outlined above. IEPs for children moving to 2nd level will be referred to at the consultation meetings with the 2nd level representative. 

Involving Parents/Carers and Children.

Parents/carers are encouraged to be fully involved at all times in their child’s education. If they have any concerns they are encouraged to make an appointment to see the class teacher, support teacher, Principal or Deputy Principal. 

The views of parents/carers will be sought at all stages of assessment and provision.  Whenever and wherever possible the views of the child will be ascertained and the child will be directly involved in the process.

Special Facilities

We have no special facilities. Where specialised equipment is to be used (i.e. in the case of a child with cerebral palsy) training will be given to staff as required.


St Patrick’s BNS is a well-resourced school, which constantly monitors and updates its resources.  IT provision is good and is updated regularly.


If parents have a complaint about the Special Education provision made, then they should in the first instance make an appointment to speak to the SEN co-ordinator and then the Principal.

The complaint will be investigated and dealt with as early as possible. If the matter is not resolved to the parents’ satisfaction, then the matter proceeds to the BoM. 

Monitoring and Reviewing

The BoM will ensure that SEN provision is an integral part of the school development plan and will evaluate the effectiveness and success of this policy by monitoring:

  • The standards obtained by children with special needs
  • The number of children at each of the three stages: Classroom Support, School Support or School Support Plus
  • The level and pattern of help (i.e. average time allocated and the balance of in-class and withdrawal support)
  • Views of parents 
  • Visits from specialist teachers
  • Staff views on in-service
  • Children’s views

This policy will be reviewed every three years.

Signature of Chairperson: ______________________ Date:__________________

Signature of Principal: _________________________ Date: __________________

Ratified by BOM in November 2019