Special needs education: post-primary
Students with special educational needs may be in ordinary classes in mainstream post-primary schools or in special classes in these schools or in special schools. They may get help from learning support/resource teachers and care support from special needs assistants (SNAs).
Post-primary students with special educational needs may attend a mainstream post-primary school. They may be in mainstream classes with the support of a learning support/resource teacher and/or the care support of a special needs assistant or may be in a special class.
A school may apply for a grant to make the school accessible for a student with a disability, for example, to put in a ramp or accessible toilet accommodation. Information about this provision can be obtained from the Building Unit of the Department of Education and Skills – see 'How to apply' below.
The following support services are available for students with disabilities and special educational needs attending post-primary schools:
Resource teachers are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which has issued Information and Guidelines for Second Level Schools in Processing Applications for Resources for Pupils with Special Educational Needs (pdf).
If a student had additional teaching support in primary school, a formal assessment or diagnosis is required by the post-primary school when it applies for additional resource teaching for the student.
You can download Children with Special Educational Needs (pdf) from the website of the National Council for Special Education.
Second-level pupils with dyslexia are normally integrated into ordinary classes. In such situations, they may receive additional tutorial support from the learning support teacher, guidance counsellor and subject teachers.
There are special classes for students with special educational needs attached to a number of post-primary schools. These classes usually cater for the learning needs of students with a mild or moderate level of learning disability.
There are special schools throughout the country for students with general learning disabilities. These schools provide education for students from 5 to 18 years who have a general learning disability at a mild or moderate level. In addition, there are post-primary schools for visually impaired and hearing impaired students in Dublin. These schools cater for both day students and boarders. There are a small number of schools for students with physical disabilities and a small number of special schools for students who have behavioural and emotional difficulties.
Students usually take the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate examinations.
The schools also make provision for students whose level of disability would make it very difficult for them to benefit from the Junior and Leaving Certificate programmes. In some schools for students with mild learning disabilities, students may be offered the opportunity to take part of the Junior Certificate curriculum.
Students with specific disabilities may be exempt from part of the examination in a particular subject. In such cases, the certificates awarded may note that the student has not sat an element of the examination. The annotation is made where a core area of a subject is not assessed, or where the mode of assessment used has the same effect. For example, hearing impaired students may be exempt from the aural component of the examination. The certificate would note that all elements of the subject were examined except the aural element. Similarly, students with dyslexia may have spelling and grammar waivers in language subjects and their certificates would note this.
The Equality Tribunal ruled in 2006 that this annotation was contrary to the Equality Acts. On appeal, the Circuit Court found that the system of exemption and related notation is a reasonable accommodation in the context of the Equal Status legislation, and in June 2010 the High Court confirmed this finding. This decision has since been appealed to the Supreme Court.
Further education and training
The National Council for Special Education has published a guide to post school education and training (pdf) which provides information on the options available to school leavers with disabilities.
How to apply
If your child has special educational needs you should talk to the school principal about what learning supports are available in the school. If you need advice about a post-primary school which could meet your child's needs you should contact your local Special Educational Needs Organiser - see 'Where to apply' below.
Schools should contact the Building Unit of the Department of Education and Skills for information about making schools accessible. Call the main Department telephone number for assistance - see 'Where to apply'.
Schools should contact the National Council for Special Education (NSCE) which administers and processes applications for special educational resources using its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) - see 'Where to apply'.
Where to apply
National Council for Special Education
1-2 Mill Street
Tel:(046) 948 6400
Fax:(046) 948 6404