Whole School Plan for Special Needs Provision

 

4. Staff Roles and Responsibilities

The role of supporting learning is a collaborative responsibility shared by all:- The Board of Management, Principal Teacher, Class Teachers, Learning-Support Teacher, Resource Teacher, Parents and Children. It is important that everyone contributes in the planning and implementation of our school plan on Learning-Support Provision.

4.1 Role of the Board of Management

The Board ofManagement should:

  • Oversee the development, implementation and review of the Learning-Support policy.
  • Ensure that adequate classroom accommodation and teaching resources are provided for the learning-support teacher.
  • Provide adequate funds for the purchase of Learning-Support materials. “Funds provided for these materials should not be limited to the learning-support grant provided by the Department of Education and Science”, (Learning-Support Guidelines, p. 47).
  • Provide a secure facility for storage of records relating to pupils in receipt of learning-support services.

4.2 Role of Principal

“The principal teacher has overall responsibility for the school’s learning-support programme and for the operation of services for children with special educational needs”. (Learning-Support Guidelines, p.38).

The Principal Teacher should:

  • Assume overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the school’s policies on learning-support and special needs in co-operation with the Learning-Support Teacher and the other six schools in our cluster.
  • Work with teachers and parents in the development of the school plan on learning-support and special needs.
  • Monitor the implementation of the school plan on learning-support and special needs on an ongoing basis.
  • Organise at least one, but preferably two, cluster meetings.
  • Monitor the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, ensuring that this service is focused on the pupils with very low achievement.
  • Oversee the implementation of a whole-school assessment and screening programme to identify pupils with very low achievement and learning difficulties so that these pupils can be provided with the support they need.
  • Keep teachers informed about the external assessment services that are available and the procedures to be followed for initial referrals.
  • Help teachers increase their knowledge and skills in the area of learning-support.
  • Liase regularly with the Learning-Support Teacher. “In order to support the implementation of school policy on learning support as outlined in the school plan, the principal teacher should arrange a meeting with the learning-support teacher at least once each school term to discuss the implementation of the school plan on learning support” (Learning-Support Guidelines, p. 40).
  • Assume direct responsibility for co-ordinating learning-support and special needs services. The role of co-ordinating learning-support and special needs services may be filled by the principal teacher him / herself. Alternatively the principal teacher may assign these duties to another teacher such as a special education teacher, learning-support teacher or post holder.

Typically, the duties assigned to this role would include the following:

  • Maintaining a list of pupils who are receiving supplementary teaching and / or special educational services
  • Help to co-ordinate the caseloads / work schedules of the learning-support and resource teachers
  • Supporting the implementation of a tracking system at whole-school level to monitor the progress of children with learning difficulties
  • Advise parents on procedures for availing of special needs services
  • Liaising with external agencies such as psychological services to arrange assessments and special provision for pupils with special needs
  • Arrange for classroom accommodation and resources, as appropriate.

4.3 Role of Class Teacher

  • Circular 02/05 demands the implementation of the Staged Approach. Stage 1 of this approach requires class teachers to support their pupil’s learning, in the first instance (See Appendix 1 of this policy)
  • The Staged Approach requires class teachers to construct simple, individual plans of support and to implement this plan for a specified time before referring the child for Stage 2 interventions (See Appendix 1 of this policy)
  • Circular 02/05 demands that ‘Interventions with pupils at Stage 2 and 3 should include a classroom support plan to ensure that pupil’s needs are met for the whole school day’ (p.7)
  • The Learning Support Guidelines (2000) advocate a significant change in the role of the class teacher, in terms of increasing emphasis on consultation with the learning-support teacher and with parents.
  • The class teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all pupils in her / his class, 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”, (Learning-Support Guidelines, p. 42).

This can be achieved by:

    • Grouping pupils for instruction
    • Providing lower-achieving pupils with strategies for reading, spelling and problem solving
    • Adapting learning materials for lower-achieving pupils
    • Liaising closely with their parents.
  • When 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 supporting the development and implementation of the school plan on learning support the class teacher should administer and score appropriate screening measures, and discuss the outcomes with the Learning-Support Teacher. CHANGE WORDING?????
  • The class teacher plays an important role in the initial identification of pupils who may have general or specific learning disabilities. The class teacher refer the pupil to the learning-support teacher for appropriate screening.
  • For each pupil who is in receipt of supplementary teaching, the class teacher will collaborate with the learning-support teacher in the development of an Individual Profile and Learning Programme by identifying appropriate learning targets and by organising classroom activities to achieve those targets.
  • For each pupil who is in receipt of supplementary teaching, the class teacher will adjust the class programme in line with the agreed learning targets and activities on the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme and maintain an appropriate record of the pupil’s progress towards achieving those learning targets.
  • With regard to teaching pupils with low achievement, the following general approaches and methods are recommended:
    • Group teaching
    • Modifying presentation and questioning techniques to maximise the involvement of pupils with low achievement in class activities
    • Placing an emphasis on oral language development across the curriculum
    • Providing pupils with extra tutoring in the key basic skills in literacy and numeracy
    • Setting learning targets at an appropriate level
    • Providing learning activities and materials which are suitably challenging but which also ensure success and progress
    • Carrying out error analyses of a pupil’s work to pinpoint specific areas of difficulty, for particular attention in subsequent lessons
    • Setting up ‘buddy systems’ in class (high achievers collaboratively working with low achievers).
  • A key role of successful learning-support is a very high level of consultation and co-operation between the class teacher and the learning-support teacher.Central to this consultation is the development, implementation and review of Individual Profile and Learning Programmes. This consultation will be achieved through formal time-tabling at least once per month, and through informal consultation as the need arises.
  • It is accepted practice for class teachers to consult with the parents of all their pupils from time to time. However, for parents of pupils who are in receipt of supplementary teaching, additional time should be devoted to consultation and collaborative planning. In the case of each pupil who has been identified as experiencing low achievement and / or a learning difficulty following administration of an appropriate screening measure, the class teacher should:
    • Make parents aware of the concerns of the school about their child’s progress
    • Outline the school’s practices regarding the administration of diagnostic tests by the learning-support teacher and seek the approval of the pupil’s parents to proceed with such assessment
    • Outline the support that is available in the school to pupils who experience low achievement and / or learning difficulties in consultation with the LSRT.
    • Indicate to the pupil’s parents that a meeting with the learning-support teacher will follow the assessment
    • After the diagnostic assessment, attend, if possible, the meeting between the pupil’s parents and the learning-support teacher and indicate how the pupil’s class programme will be modified in order to achieve the agreed learning targets in the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Plan.

4.4 Role of Learning-Support Teacher

The activities of the learning support teacher should include both teaching and non-teaching duties. According to the Learning-Support Guidelines (2000) “The particular balance that the learning-support teacher achieves between supplementary teaching and consultative activities will depend on the specific circumstances of the school” (p. 32).The learning-support teacher’s activities should include, where possible:

  • Assisting in the implementation of a broad range of whole-school strategies designed to enhance early learning and to prevent learning difficulties.
  • Provide supplementary teaching commensurate with the child’s particular and individual needs.
  • Research the pupil’s specific learning difficulty, to become au fait with this impediment to learning.
  • Implement recommendations from outside agencies, wherever possible, and liaise with outside agencies pertinent to the children in their care.
  • Development of an Individual Profile and Learning Programme for each pupil who is selected for supplementary teaching, in consultation with class teachers and parents.
  • Maintaining a weekly planning and progress record, or equivalent, for each individual or group of pupils in receipt of learning support.
  • Delivering early intervention programmes and providing supplementary teaching in English and / or Mathematics to pupils in the junior section of the school (Junior Infants to 2nd Class), caseload permitting
  • Co-ordinating the implementation of whole-school procedures for the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, giving due consideration to:
    • The selection criteria specified in this Learning-Support Policy
    • Teachers’ professional observations
    • Input from parents
    • Input from pupils (EPSEN 2006)
  • Contributing to the development of policy on Learning-Support at the whole school level.
  • Providing advice to the Class Teacher (if requested) about pupils who are experiencing learning difficulties in such areas as:
    • Individual pupil assessment
    • Programme planning
    • Curriculum differentiation
    • Approaches to language development
    • Approaches to reading
    • Approaches to spelling
    • Approaches to writing
    • Approaches to Mathematics
  • Meet with parents of each pupil who is in receipt of LSR to discuss targets and ways in which attainment of the targets can be supported at home.
  • Meet with parents of each pupil who is receipt of LSR at theend of each instructional term:
    • To review the pupil’s attainment of agreed targets
    • To discuss the next instructional term
    • To revise the pupil’s IPLP
  • Contributing at the school level to decision making regarding the purchase of learning resources, books and materials to be made available to pupils with learning difficulties in their mainstream classrooms and in the learning-support teacher’s room.
  • Performing a defined role in co-ordinating the provision of special needs and learning-support services in the school, as requested and time permitting.
  • Liaising with external agencies such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists etc… to arrange assessments and special provision for pupils with special needs.
  • Collaborate with the principal teacher and meet with her at least once each school term to discuss issues relating to the development and implementation of the school plan on learning-support, and to the provision of Learning-Support.
  • The learning-support teacher should work closely with class teachers to implement school policies on preventing learning difficulties, screening pupils for learning difficulties, interpreting the outcomes of diagnostic assessments and providing supplementary teaching and other forms of learning-support, where it is deemed necessary.
  • The learning-support teacher plays an important role in co-ordinating the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching. The learning-support teacher should:
    • Co-ordinate the administration by class teachers of a whole-school screening programme to identify pupils with very low achievement and / or learning difficulties in English and Mathematics
    • Consult with class teachers on the identification of pupils who may need diagnostic assessment, taking into account the pupils’ scores on an appropriate standardised screening measure.
    • Carry out a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of each pupil who has been identified as experiencing low achievement and / or learning difficulties and, in consultation with the class teacher and parents, identify the type and level of learning-support that is needed to meet the pupil’s needs.
  • In addition to providing supplementary teaching to pupils, the learning-support teacher is involved in administering a range of formal and informal assessments and in maintaining records of the outcomes of those assessments. The learning-support teacher should:
    • Conduct an initial diagnostic assessment of each pupil who has been identified as having low achievement and / or a learning difficulty, based on results of an appropriate screening measure and record the findings of the assessment in the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme.
    • Monitor the on-going progress of each pupil in receipt of supplementary teaching in relation to the attainment of agreed learning targets and short-term objectives that arise from them, and record the observations in the Weekly Planning and Progress Record, or equivalent.
    • Review the progress of each pupil at the end of an instructional term and record it on the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme.

4.5.Role of Parents

“Parents through their unique knowledge of their own child, have much to contribute to their child’s learning programmes” (Learning-Support Guidelines, p.52). Parents can prepare for and support the work of the school by:

  • Providing a home environment in which there are opportunities for adults and children to participate together in language, literacy and mathematical activities in the early years before formal schooling begins.
  • Supporting the work of the school by participating with their child in such activities as:
    • Using Information and Communications Technology (ICTs), where available, to support learning in English and / or Mathematics
    • Book sharing / reading stories
    • Storytelling
    • Paired reading (listening to and giving supportive feedback on oral reading)
    • Discussions about school and other activities to build vocabulary and thinking skills
    • Writing lists and short accounts about children’s experiences
    • Counting and measuring and other activities involving number
    • Visits to the zoo, museum, library etc… to broaden the range of their child’s experiences
    • Where their child is in receipt of supplementary teaching, implementing suggested home-based activities outlined in their child’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme and discussing the outcomes with the child’s teachers.
  • Talking positively about school and school work;
  • Availing of real-life situations to discuss the importance of language, literacy and mathematics.
  • Modelling involvement in language, literacy and mathematical activities at home by engaging in and talking about these activities.
  • Where their child is in receipt of supplementary teaching, implementing suggested home-based activities outlined in their child’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme and discussing the outcomes with the child’s teachers.
  • Parents should keep the class teacher informed of the progress that they observe in their child’s learning. They should also let the school know of any learning difficulties that they observe in their child at home. If, following diagnostic assessment, the child has been identified as requiring supplementary teaching, the parents should attend a meeting with the learning-support teacher to discuss:
    • The results of the assessment
    • The learning targets in the child’s Individual Profile and Learning programme
    • The actions to be taken by the school to meet those targets
    • The ways in which attainment of the targets can be supported at home.
  • Where a child is in receipt of supplementary teaching from the learning-support teacher, the parents should:
    • Discuss their child’s progress with the learning-support teacher at the end of each instructional term, and, in cases where supplementary teaching is to be continued, discuss the revised learning targets and activities in their child’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme
    • At the discontinuation of supplementary teaching, discuss with their child’s teachers how the child’s future learning needs can continue to be met at school and at home
    • Participate in activities organised by the school that are designed to increase the involvement of parents in their children’s learning
    • Become familiar with and contribute to the development of the school plan on learning support individually and through involvement in parents’ associations.

4.6 Role of Pupils

Pupils who are in receipt of supplementary teaching should, as appropriate:

  • Become familiar with the medium and short-term learning targets that have been set for them and they should be given the opportunity to contribute to the setting of such targets.(EPSEN 2006)
  • Contribute to the selection of texts and other learning materials that are relevant to the attainment of their learning targets.
  • Develop ‘ownership’ of the skills and strategies that are taught during supplementary teaching and learn to apply these learning strategies and skills to improve their own learning.
  • Contribute to the evaluation of their progress by participating in appropriate assessment activities.