Learning Support Policy


Kilkenny City Vocational School believes that all students should be valued equally, irrespective of any individual needs. Through the Department of Education and Science, National Education Psychological Service (NEPS), National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and other agencies, Kilkenny City Vocational School is committed to making effective provision for students in the school who require learning support and have special educational needs including those students on the Autistic spectrum.

Kilkenny City Vocational School is committed to ensuring that all students achieve their true potential.

Special Educational Needs

In the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004) the term “special educational needs” is defined as:

a restriction in the capacity of the person to participate in and benefit from education on account of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or learning disability or any other condition which results in a person learning differently from a person without that condition…

(Government of Ireland, 2004b, section 1) [1]



For the purposes of this policy, the following definition by the NCSE, has been adopted.

Inclusion is defined as a process of: addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of learners through enabling participation in learning, cultures, and communities, and removing barriers to education through the accommodation and provision of appropriate structures and arrangements, to enable each learner to achieve the maximum benefit from his/ her attendance at school. Literature Review of the Principles and Practices relating to Inclusive Education for Children with Special Educational Needs (NCSE 2010, p.39) [2]


Our SEN policy is linked to our other key policies including our Child Protection policy, Care policy, Behaviour policy, Health and Safety policy and our Enrolment policy.


Aims of Special Education/ Resource Teaching

To optimise the teaching and learning process in order to enable students with learning challenges to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy, numeracy, social skills, life skills or other.

  1. To enable students with learning difficulties to participate in the full curriculum for their class level.
  2. To develop positive self-esteem and positive attitudes about school and learning in these students.
  3. To provide supplementary teaching and additional support and resources for these students in English, Maths and other subjects as required.
  4. To enable these students to become independent learners.
  5. To promote collaboration among teachers in the implementation of whole school policies on learning support for these students.
  6. To involve parents in supporting their children’s learning.



Our SEN policy is linked to our other key policies which include our Child Protection policy, Care policy, Behaviour policy, Health and Safety policy and our Enrolment policy.


Roles and Responsibilities


  • The Principal has overall responsibility for the school’s Special Education Needs Programme and for the operation of services of children with special educational needs.
  • Works with Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and parents in the development of the school plan on learning support/resource.
  • Monitors the implementation of the school plan on learning support/resource on an ongoing basis and includes learning support/resource on agenda of staff meetings.
  • Keeps teachers informed about the external assessment services that are available and the procedures to be followed in initiating referrals.
  • Arranges for classroom accommodation and resources as appropriate.
  • Monitors screening processes and the selection of students for supplementary teaching, ensuring that this service is focused on the students who may have difficulties with the curricula, or those diagnosed with high incidence or low incidence disabilities.
  • To contribute to the in-service needs and training of staff.


Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator

  • To oversee the day-to-day operation of the school’s learning support/special educational needs policy, and to work closely with and under the overall direction of the school principal.
  • To engage in personal professional development.
  • To liaise with and advise other teachers.
  • To meet regularly with the learning support/special educational needs team, home school community liaison officer and other relevant personnel, as appropriate.
  • To oversee the records of all students with learning support/special educational needs.
  • Development of Individual Education Plan for each student who is selected for supplementary teaching, in consultation with class teachers and parents.
  • To ensure that Individual Education Plans are in place, as required, and to develop other practices to aid the identification of students with learning support/special educational needs.
  • To liaise with parents of students with learning support/special educational needs.
  • To ensure the distribution of suitable learning resources and teaching aids, subject to those resources and teaching aids being made available by the Department of Education & Science or other agencies.
  • To liaise with external agencies including primary schools, National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), National Council for Special Education (NCSE), National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS), Health Boards and Voluntary bodies.
  • To co-ordinate the provision for students with learning support/special educational needs, and keep a register of needs and provision.

Role of Special Education Teacher

The activities of the Special Education teacher should include:

  • Assisting in the implementation of a broad range of whole-school strategies designed to enhance early learning and to prevent learning difficulties.
  • Maintaining a monthly/weekly planning and progress record for each individual or group of students in receipt of SEN.
  • Responsible for the implementation of the Individual Education Plan (IEP).
  • Contributing to the development of policy on SEN.
  • Contributing at the school level to the decision making regarding the purchase of learning resources, books and materials to be made available to students with learning difficulties in their mainstream classrooms and in the learning support room. Funds provided for these materials should not be limited to the learning support grant provided by the Dept. of Education and Science.
  • To conduct standardised tests and record student progress in the months of August and May for first years and in October and May for the rest of Junior Cycle students to enable the best provision for students.

Role of Subject Teacher

The subject teacher has primary responsibility for the progress of all students in the class including those selected for supplementary teaching. In supporting the development and implementation of the school plan on learning support/ resource the class teacher should:

  • For each student who is in receipt of supplementary teaching, collaborate with learning support/resource teacher in the development of an Individual Education Plan by identifying appropriate learning targets and by organizing classroom activities to achieve those targets.
  • Differentiate the class curriculum appropriately to meet the needs of all students in the class. With regard to teaching students with low achievement, the following general methods are recommended:
  • Group teaching
  • Modifying presentation and questioning techniques to maximize the involvement of all students in the class
  • Providing learning activities and materials which are suitably challenging but which also ensure success and achievement
  • Implement the schools Literacy and Numeracy plan.
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL ) approach.

Role of Parent

  • To support and participate in their child’s learning.
  • To meet with class teacher and / or SET and participate in the setting of educational targets.

Role of Board of Management

  • The role here is to oversee the implementation and review of the school SEN Policy, to also oversee the provision of adequate resources and accommodations for SEN students.


Role of Student

It is important for the students to have an input into the development, implementation and review of their own learning. By doing so they can:

  • become more independent as learners
  • become aware of different learning styles
  • become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses or needs
  • enjoy success and evaluate their progress
  • excel at and enjoy many curricular and extra-curricular activities which would not be practical in the mainstream class due to class size.
  • develop ownership of the skills and strategies taught during supplementary teaching and apply these strategies and skills in their mainstream class situation.


Staged Approach to Assessment, Identification and Programme Planning

Continuum of Support

We use the Continuum of Support Framework set out by the Department of Education to identify and support children with additional needs. Like this framework, we recognise that special educational needs occurs along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe , and from transient to long term and that pupils require different levels of support depending on their additional needs. By using this framework, it helps us implement a staged approach to ensure that our support and interventions are incremental, moving from class-based interventions to more intensive and individualised support, and are informed by careful monitoring of progress. [3]

 1: Classroom Support (for all)

A class teacher or parent may have concerns about the academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development of certain pupils. Screening measures, which may include standardised, norm-referenced test for pupils and behavioural checklists, will be administered, where appropriate. All children are screened in May each year.

The class teacher in consultation with the child’s parent/guardian and member of the support team will draw up a short, simple eight week plan for extra help to be provided. This continuum of support is implemented within the normal classroom setting and at home, in the relevant areas of learning and/or behavioural management. The success of the classroom support plan will be reviewed with appropriate parental involvement. If, after this review, concern remains, the special education support team in the school will be consulted about the desirability of intervention at Stage II.

Stage II: School Support (for some)

If intervention is considered necessary at Stage II, then the pupil will be referred to the SET with parents’ permission, for further diagnostic testing. If this diagnostic assessment suggests that supplementary teaching would be beneficial, this will be arranged. The parents and the class teacher will be involved with the SET in drawing up the learning programme, which would include appropriate interventions for implementation in the home, in the classroom, and during supplementary teaching. The SET/Resource teacher and the class teacher will review, after the 1st instructional term, in consultation with parents, the rate of progress of each pupil receiving supplementary teaching. If significant concerns remain, 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: School Support Plus (for few)

Some pupils who will continue to present with significant learning needs will require more intensive intervention at Stage III. The school may formally request a consultation and, where appropriate, an assessment of need from a specialist outside the school in respect of pupils with learning difficulties or with mild or moderate behavioural problems (or both) who have failed to make progress after supplementary teaching or the implementation of a behavioural programme and in respect of pupils with serious emotional disturbance and/or behavioural problems. Such specialist advice may be sought from psychologists, paediatricians, speech and language therapists, audiologists, etc.

The SET and the class teacher, in consultation with the relevant specialist or specialists will then draw up a learning programme that includes identification of any additional resources that are considered necessary in order to implement the programme. The parents will be fully consulted throughout this process. This programme will be the subject of regular reviews, leading to revisions of the learning programme and referral for specialist review, as necessary.


Criteria for Selection of Students to Receive Supplementary Teaching

In the allocation of places for Learning Support, the following are prioritised:

  • Students who have been identified by through the school’s learning support referral system as needing extra support or intervention in any area of the curricula as per National Council for Special Education (NCSE) guidelines.
  • Support will be given to students who are performing at or below the 10th percentile in a standardised test of English and maths.
  • Please refer to the ASD Unit Admission Policy also for students who have a diagnosis of ASD.
  • Currently only two students per school, per annum, are being assessed by the Educational Psychologist for this area. Schools have been advised to refer priority cases. This is due to caseload factors / insufficient number of Ed. Psychologists working in the Kilkenny area.


Screening Procedure

Students will be assessed as follows:

  • Nfer-Nelson Group Reading Test. (To access literacy levels).
  • Progress in Maths, (To access numeracy levels).
  1. Incoming first years undergo a Post Primary Transfer Review which highlights any specific resources that maybe required by a student on entry to post primary education.


  1. On entry all students undertake the following assessments which aids in the identification of students who may require a level of intervention. Nfer-Nelson Group Reading Test, followed by the PDST Competency Test.


  1. This may be followed by diagnostic assessment, which involves the administration of diagnostic tests by the learning support teacher. The learning support teacher will then discuss the outcomes with the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). The SENCO, the Principal and the SEN Team will then consider the most appropriate form of intervention for the student.


  1. Programme planning where there is a meeting between the SENCO, Principal and the Parents. The SENCO develops the Individual Education Plan (IEP) in consultation with the student’s subject teachers and parents.


  1. Programme implementation where the subject teacher makes appropriate modification of teaching approaches. The learning support teacher implements the IEP on a term basis.


  1. Programme Review is made at the end of each term where there is an assessment of the student’s progress and an evaluation of the learning programme. There is consultation between the SENCO, SET, subject teacher and parents and a decision is made with regard to the level of support now required by the student.


The Special Educational Needs Coordinator and Principal meet parents to:


  • discuss the results of diagnostic assessment
  • discuss the drawing       up of learning targets in the student’s IEP
  • discuss the actions to be taken by the school to meet those targets
  • suggest ways in which attainment of those targets can be supported at home
  • answer any queries and address any concerns the parent may have.
  • Referral onto NEPS.


Individual Education Plan (IEP) and/or Group Learning Programme

An individual education plan is drawn up by the SENCO in conjunction with the SEN team, subject teachers, parents and the Principal to target the student’s needs.

This will include short term and long term planning covering targets, progress and programme evaluation at the beginning of each term.


Individual Education Plan

The individual Education Plan/group learning plan will be in accordance with the criteria as advised in the NCSE (IEP Guidelines, (http://www.ncse.ie/uploads/1/final_report.pdf) ). The plan will address the students’ full range of needs and will include:

  • Details from Class Teacher
  • Assessment Results
  • Other relevant information, e.g. reports from other agencies
  • Learning strengths and attainments
  • Priority learning needs
  • Learning targets
  • Class-based learning activities
  • Supplementary support activities to include ICT
  • Home support activities
  • Resources are matched to child’s needs and listed in programme
  • Review and assessment dates are documented.


Each plan will be monitored through teacher observation, the keeping of planning and progress records and through the student’s own feedback.

A detailed review will take place at the end of each term. The SENCO and/or the SET Teacher may meet parents to discuss the child’s progress in the light of the review.

Early September– Handover meeting-

New SET and Class teacher

gather further information by

completing formal and informal assessments

June– Final IEP Review

Meeting and Priority Learning Goals for next academic year are agreed with parents



Late September IEP targets are formulated from the data gathered by Students SEN Team. A draft IEP is written and sent home for parent’s approval. IEP is finalised and plan is put into action
MayEnd of Year gathering information by completing formal and informal assessments to inform progress and IEP Review


January/February IEP is received at an IEP Meeting and amended if necessary


Team Teaching:

In according to best practice we endeavour to accommodate where possible the inclusion of all students in the classroom so where possible learning support will/may be conducted in the regular classroom during the timetabled subject time, this is achieved through team teaching, i.e. the SET will attend the class and work with the subject teacher for the best possible outcome for the student. We do recognise that in some circumstances that this support may not be the best approach and in such situations the student will be withdrawn for intensive group or one to one teaching.

Monitoring Progress

In order to monitor student progress a meeting with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Principal and learning support teachers will be held once a term to determine:

  • Implementation of the school’s screening programme.
  • Allocation of SET teachers time.
  • Progress of students in receipt of supplementary teaching.
  • Level of parental involvement.
  • Referral of students for additional assessment and support.
  • Co-ordination of support services in school.
  • Time tabling students for supplementary teaching.
  • Reviewing adequacy of resources for supplementary teaching.

Record Keeping

The SET Teacher will maintain the following documentation in individualised files which are centralised in the school’s learning support room some of which are locked in a filing cabinet. Principal and relevant class teachers will be involved in the planning process and will be kept updated on test results / progress etc.

  1. Individual Profile and Education Plan
  2. Planning and programme record
  3. Review of Progress
  4. Test papers and results
  5. Samples of written work
  6. Reports from outside agencies

Provision of Resources

Resources for the provision of learning support include a variety of textbooks, library books and ancillary materials.

A variety of testing materials are also in use which include standardised, diagnostic screening, reading attainment, phonological awareness and Math’s attainment.


Reasonable Accommodations

The Special Educational Needs co-ordinator, in consultation with other members of the SEN Department, identifies those students in need of reasonable accommodation in school and state examinations. Psychological reports that recommend reasonable accommodation for certain students must be acted on and applications forwarded to “Reasonable Accommodation” section of the State Examinations Commission.

In-School assessment will continue to be administered to those students identified as potential candidates requiring reasonable accommodation will be made for those students that meet the criteria necessary for additional supports.

Links with Outside Agencies

The school will liaise with any outside agencies in agreement with parents that will support and assist the learning of students these include

  • National Council for Special Education (NCSE)
  • National Education Psychological Service (NEPS)
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Social Workers/HSE
  • A representative from Post Primary Schools to discuss transfer of 6th class students with Special Educational Needs. Meeting takes place usually in summer term.

Referral to Out-of-school Agencies

  • The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) co-ordinates the referral of students to outside agencies, such as National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the designated Educational Psychologist.
  • The Principal and/or SENCO/or home school liaison may meet with the parents to discuss the need for the referral and to seek consent.
  • The class teacher completes the necessary referral form in consultation with the appropriate school personnel.
  • The external professional visits the school to meet with the student, parents, principal, class teacher and the SENCO as appropriate and assessment is conducted.
  • This is followed by a return visit at which findings are discussed, recommendations are considered and an appropriate response is agreed.
  • Where concern arises regarding the manner or speed of the follow–through post assessment, such concern is pursued by the Principal with the out-of-school agency.

Health and safety Issues  

  • Every staff member and pupil is entitled to a safe, secure environment and to be treated with due respect. All appropriate measures are taken to ensure the safety of each pupil with SEN. When a place is offered to a child with SEN, every effort will be made to ensure that the supports to which the child is entitled to are in place as soon as possible. Staff members will be informed of any risk, and where necessary, individual plans will be drawn up and implemented.