Terms of Enrolment for Our Special Class for pupils with ASD

Terms of Enrolment for Our Special Class for pupils with ASD

About our School

We, in the Special Class for pupils with ASD in Scoil Naomh Fionán, want to give the
highest quality of education to our children. We want the individual to grow to his/her full potential. Our aim is that this education will prepare each child for life to the best of his/her ability. We recognise and value the role of parents as the primary educators of their children. Together we can provide the skills for a loving approach to learning. We take an eclectic approach to teaching our pupils. We don’t subscribe exclusively to any one approach to the education of children with autism.

Aim of Scoil Naomh Fionán Special Class for pupils with ASD

The aim of the special class is to provide a caring learning environment which facilitates the nurturing of each pupil’s full educational potential. The achievement of this aim informs all of the planning processes and activities which occur in our school. The principal, teachers, support staff and parents are partners in their children’s education with co-operation and communication between home and school being vital ingredients in the educational process. We share the same purpose – the care and well- being of the children in our care. Demand for places far exceeds capacity. Each child’s placement in the special class will be reviewed after a two-year period following a psychological assessment and input from the multi–disciplinary team.

Mission Statement

Established in 2016 under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills, Scoil Naomh Fionán Special Class for pupils with ASD offers a specialised educational service to children who have been fully diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The special class strives to create a supportive and caring environment for each pupil.

With a team of dedicated teachers and special needs assistants, the school provides individual attention in small classes catering for the uniqueness of each pupil’s personality.

Families of students are encouraged to participate in the development of their child’s
learning.

The aim is to enable the children to attain their educational potential and fulfill their role in society.

Our Mission: Real Education for Real Life.

Enrolment Procedure

Registration process begins with a referral from the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), a telephone call or a visit from the parents. Applications, incorporating date of application, date of birth, address and telephone number, are entered in Aladdin, the school’s online administration system.

Applications will only be considered in February of the year of entry of a candidate to our school. All applicants are required to have a diagnosis (by a multidisciplinary team) of Autism, using DSM IV or ISD 10.

All applications must be accompanied by a recent assessment/ report carried out by a multidisciplinary team recommending the candidate for special class placement in a special class for pupils with ASD attached to a primary school.

The following documentation is required for admission:

  • A completed Enrolment Request Form
  • A recent report from a multidisciplinary team, recommending the child as suitable for placement in a special class for pupils with ASD.
  • A fully completed cognitive assessment which verifies that the child is suitable for placement in a special class where the primary goal is to integrate in to a mainstream setting on a regular basis.

Our Special Class for pupils with ASD will cater for children with autism whose cognitive functioning has been assessed in the average to mild general range on a cognitive test (WPPSI IV, WISC IV, BAS 3, STANFORD BINET 5). It will not cater for children within the moderate range or below.

Once this process has been completed the applicant secures a place on the list of applicants to enrol. A school application form, incorporating family details and medical history, is completed on enrolment day for children who have secured a place.

Enrolment Criteria

The maximum class size is six pupils. If the number of children on the list of applicants to enrol exceeds the number of places available, the following criteria will apply in priority order, beginning with number one, once a definite diagnosis of Autism has been provided by a multi-disciplinary team.

  1. Brothers and sisters of existing pupils
  2. Child already enrolled in mainstream classes within the school, if deemed necessary by teachers and principal, in consultation with parents and outside agencies
  3. Child already enrolled in mainstream classes within the school, if deemed necessary by teachers and principal, in consultation with parents and outside agencies
  4. Children of current school staff
  5. Children who do not have a placement in another ASD class
  6. Children from outside the parish

Applications will undergo team assessment by the school’s Admission Team. (Principal, deputy principal, AP11 post holder, ASD class teachers and SET team leader)

If spaces are still available, places will be allocated as per waiting list once an assessment has been made by the Admissions Team.

The first year will be used to;

  • assess the child’s educational needs
  • develop an Individual Educational Plan (I.E.P) to address identified needs
  • assess whether the child’s placement is appropriate

Taking into account the Department regulations and programmes, the rights of the patron as set out in the Education Act, and the funding available, the school supports the principles of;

  • inclusiveness, as and when appropriate, particularly with reference to the enrolment of children with a disability or other special education need
  • equality of access and participation in the school
  • parental choice in relation to enrolment
  • respect for the diversity of values, beliefs
  • traditions, languages and ways of life in society

The Board of Management will not refuse a child on the basis of ethnicity, disability,
traveller status, refugee status, political beliefs or family or social circumstances, provided they fulfil the enrolment criteria. Fulfilling the enrolment criteria does not necessarily ensure enrolment if;

  • necessary resources pertaining to enrolment are not available
  • sufficient classroom space is not available
  • the Admissions Team decide that the school is unable to adequately meet the needs of the child

Taking all of the above into account, and based on the advice of the Admissions Team of the Special Class for pupils with ASD, the Board of Management reserves the right of admission.

Aim and Objectives of the Special Class for Children with ASD

  • To provide a quality driven, appropriate educational service to all children in the special class, within the requirements of all recent legislation pertaining to Special Needs Education
  • To strive towards the integration of children in the special class into mainstream education, having regard for levels of disability, available resources and suitability for such integration.
  • To enhance the communicative and social skills of the children in the Special Class for pupils with ASD
Staff Roles

Principal

With reference to the Education for Persons with Special Needs Act 2004, the role of the principal entails:

  1. direct responsibility for coordinating an effective whole school approach to
    integration
  2. responsibility for the provision of in-service training and adequate resourcing
  3. monitoring the effectiveness of the policy and making relevant adjustment following consultation and
  4. working with parents and out-of-school agencies.

Special Class Teachers

  1. will identify the appropriate curriculum area the child in the Autism Unit should experience;
  2. ensure SNA support is available during any period of integration;
  3. collaborate and consult with mainstream teachers in setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant short-term and long-term targets; and
  4. assume responsibility for an ongoing IEP in consultation with the relevant support services, parents and the Principal. At present each special class teacher is only obliged to produce one IEP per school year. It is up to the professional opinion of the teacher involved if the IEP needs to be updated more frequently

Class Teachers

  1. will differentiate teaching programmes to meet the needs of the child from the special class;
  2. provide a suitable seating arrangement in a mainstream setting;
  3. collaborate with the special class teacher and the special needs assistant (SNA); and
  4. provide feedback on progress.

Special Needs Assistants/Care Assistants

Each class will be allocated a number of SNAs by the area SENO.

Generally, the SNAs are allocated to the school and employed by the Department of
Education. They are not assigned to any one child and there is great scope in their job specification to move between classes when needs arise.

Their main role is to assist the class teacher with the specific goals and targets set down in the child’s IEP.

Implementation

The school promotes a policy of integration with age appropriate peers on a social level and ability appropriate on a curriculum level.

The policy is open to review at all times. The school insists, to begin with, only one child per class will be integrated at any given time. This may increase, after a time, to a maximum of 2 children per class. Early levels of integration into mainstream are on a social level only. The child from the Autism Unit will not partake in general class learning until they have mastered the art of:

  • entering the class without trepidation
  • sitting down at a designated desk
  • interacting on a social level with the child(ren) nearest them
  • having lunch with the whole class
  • engaging in a ‘Buddy System’ at playtime
  • acting on general teacher instructions within the classroom setting.

Curricular Integration

Having adjusted on a social level the child from the special class will, on a phased basis, be introduced to areas of the curriculum appropriate to ability level. Art and Craft classes at junior and senior infant level will be targeted initially. Integration into this class will continue up through the classes.

Music has also been designated an area open to integration. This extends to school choirs (communion and confirmation), carol singing groups, school plays and recitals. Religion and SPHE are also open to integration.

Physical Education is also an area open to integration. The child is integrated into the class that best suits his/her physical condition. This includes coaching from outside agencies and timetabled sessions in the school grounds.

The children from the special class are also fully included in the school sports day.

Reverse Integration

A policy of reverse integration extends to all classes. This involve:

  1. the child from the special class being integrated for core curriculum subjects such as Maths and English initially through reverse integration whereby 3-4 children from the mainstream class are withdrawn to join the child in their own environment. It is hoped that this will in the long-term lead to conventional integration into the mainstream class. The level of integration into a mainstream class for a core curriculum subject will be on an individual basis only and will differ from child to child. The school will retain discretion as to when the particular children should avail of core curriculum mainstream integration.
  2. Children from the mainstream classes engage in life skills integration on a weekly basis
  3. A timetabled buddy system involving the children from the special class and children from 4th, 5th and 6th classes is operational for all playtimes throughout the year.

Staff Development:

Opportunities for in-service staff development in relation to the implementation of a
workable system of integration will be provided once a year by a suitably qualified
practitioner.