Special Needs Provision in Ireland
Swan (2000) describes special need’s education in Ireland in three phases, ‘The Era of Neglect and Denial’ ‘The Era of the Special School’ and ‘The Era of Integration or Inclusion’.
Back in 1931 under the English rule the National Education System was established, and we saw school attendance became compulsory from the ages of 6 years to 14-year old’s and in 1982 children had to attend school for 150 days of the school year. However, children with special needs seen as were medical and lived in hospitals, Asylums and in country homes. The government did not regard special needs children as needing education. Some religious schools were established to facilitate for children who were deaf and blind. But mainly based in Dublin.
So, between 1919 to the 1990’s children with special needs travelled and lived in these school to be able to get some form of Education. There was very little policies or legislation to support those with special needs in Ireland. It wasn’t until there was a decrease in the religious order that the state then began to take over. This was then when the state, teachers and parents realised just who bad the special needs provision was and how far behind compared to other counties we were. Flood,2013 p.5)
We the saw the first special needs school get recognised by the state in 1947 and soon more followed. There was a rapid change in government policy and a new important piece of legislation was implemented. Between 1934- 1936 children were assessed but options were still limited to institutional care or training programmes and special needs children were still seen as not being able to be educated in mainstream schools with “normal” children and teachers.
In 1959 the first inspector was established for special education and from 1960 – 1980’s new special needs schools were established throughout the country.
This was known as ‘The Era of the Special School’ This acknowledge children with special needs require education but still not as part of mainstream classes. It was until the mid-1980’s that this all changed as there was a big demand for children with mild learning disabilities to be integrated in to mainstream schools.
In 1991 the government issued a full review of all special needs provision in Ireland from pre-school to secondary schooling. Then due to this review “The Report of the Special Education Committee” (SERC) was then published. This report was very import for several reasons. One it defined special needs schools and those with profound difficulties and those who were exceptionally able including both physical and mental disabilities. It recognised that parents with special needs children wanted them to be educated in to mainstream schooling. It also recommended there be a psychological service be linked to all schools. Who then dealt with assessments and assisted with planning. Integration was most important with very little segregation for all children. It also found that children being segregated affected the children and stopped them from learning the main goal of integration, which is to learn to socialise and work as part of their community.
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It showed that teacher training didn’t meet the areas of special needs provision and showed the lack of contact between special education and the mainstream system. It recommended educational provision be changed to meet the different levels of education and needed to meet the individual, the type of support and placement they need
“The White Paper on Education, charting our educational Future” (Department of education & Science 1995) handed in their findings. It stated that 2 All students regardless of their personal circumstances have a right to access and participate in the education system) “According to their own potential and ability” Eilis Flood (2013)
Other documents in the report included the “A strategy for Equality” 1996. The Commissions on the status of people with disabilities 2006 showed the lack of co-operation between mainstream and special schools. There was a lack of support services, Transport, resources and special equipment and that there was very little flexibility in the mainstream curriculum for those with special needs.
In 1999 the “Ready to Learn” was published by the department of education & Science. It showed the importance of early intervention for those with special needs and how improvements needed to be implemented, such as early childhood education, better training for early years educators and the increase of the level of provisions for pre-school children with special needs. More support for those already in rolled in pre-school. The increase of resource of the visiting teacher supports and the extension of (NEPs) to early years sector. There have been many more reports running alongside “The White Paper” report. Such as the establishment of (NEP’S) in 1999 and in 2003 “The National Council for Special Education” was set up and became for all special needs provisions in Irish schools, The assessments of applications of SNA’s and the managing of the services throughout the country. It wasn’t formally established till 2005 and its functions were then made clear.
The department of Education (DES) 2014 is responsible for children with special needs the child assessed disability through different support systems.
The National council was established under the ESPN (Act 2004). This provides planning and assessments, it provides resource teachers to help with the high demand of special needs classes in mainstream classes as well as special needs assistance to help support children in the class and smaller special needs classes. It co-ordinates educational services through the special needs Education Organiser. (SENO) The main policy of the (DES) is to ensure maximum integration of children with special needs in mainstream schools who have been professionally assessed and making sure the child with special needs has access to special education supports, such as special classes or ASD units attached to mainstream schools and works closely with parents. Home tuition can be received if there is no placement for a child and can provide education at home till a place is provided. Technology and therapy support can be availed of to help those who may not need an SNA to support them and the teacher. More training for teachers and early years teachers to help support with children with special needs has been provided, as well as school transport where the child is collected and dropped back from school and has the support of a special needs escort. Individual educational plans are implemented to help each child with educational needs and to make sure there reaching their educational goals.
Ciara O’ Mahony
Education and childcare sector in Ireland.
We saw the launch of the Free pre-school (ECCE) scheme, supporting access to the early childhood care and education programme for children with disabilities was implemented in 2015. This was to get more support for those with special needs before they attended mainstream school. This is a great start for early intervention and helps prepare the child for the next level of education. It helps improve the child’s development and allows for observations and interventions that may help a child. Staff can use observations to show parents areas of development that may need extra support or even professional assessment. In 2016 the Minister announced a new support model that is practical and workable to meet the needs of children with special needs.
“The Access and Inclusion Model” (AIM) is a sensory and educational play resource to support all in a pre-school setting. Its child centred based and has seven levels of progressive support.
An SNA works long side the principal direction and can provide general assistants to the class teacher. An sna helps and support those with learning/special needs on a developing independent living skill. The sna under supervision of the teacher can help support with reading, help students with presentation of their work. Also helps with the preparation of the room and assist on school transport and a special needs escort. The sna helps with feeding, toileting and general hygiene of the special needs child/children. We can accompany individuals who have withdrawn from the classroom. An sna is someone one who a child can learn to trust and get to know. This also works for the sna and gives them a chance to observe a child limits and triggers and be able to encourage and push a child or when to take a step back. This in return takes pressure off the teacher and allows for a whole class learning system. An sna would need to be calm and understanding of every child and teacher, to be flexible in supporting the teacher and pupils. You would need to have good reading, writing and numeracy skills and be able to manage small groups of children and understand how to manage behavioural issues that may arise. Also, be a strong team player with all.
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Legislation Relation to special Education in Ireland.
Education Act 1998
The “Education Act 1998” set guidelines for the minister of education & science to make sure everyone including those with special needs gets the level of education and support they need to reach their abilities. It shows the supports that are provided to the schools & pupils and outlines other roles and responsibilities of the board of management when it comes to the provision for students with Special needs. It provides a frame work for supportive working environment for teachers and management and promotes the development of education at school and national level.
Education and welfare Act 2000
The “Education and welfare Act 2000″ deals with the compulsory of school attendance and its measures to make sure and prevent non-attendance. Its aim is to make sure all students have appropriate education in a recognised school. This act also resulted in the establishment of the Education Welfare Board” to promote recognition of the importance of education for children. It shows for the first time, children who are being educated outside of the school system and for a structure to be put in place to make sure they are getting their educational rights. It insures that each child attendance a recognised school or otherwise receives appropriate education such as home tuition. The welfare board have a key role insuring school attendance and to work as an advocate for the child and guardians if there are issues in school attendance or education.
Equal Status Act 2000
The “Equal Status Act 2000” promotes equal opportunity for all citizens and prohibits discrimination. It prevents discrimination against gender, age, religion, disability, race, Family status. Its objective is to aim for a positive experience and outcomes for all students. The act was amended in “2004” It put in place provisions for protection in the work place against harassment and unfair treatment. It has measure in place for rights of those with special needs to participate and grow in employment but also to be able to on to future education and training to move up in the roles like every other employee.
Education for persons with special needs act 2004
The “Education for persons with special needs act 2004” was implemented to make provisions for education of pupils with (sen) and to provide education in an inclusive environment with those who don’t have special education needs. Unless it doesn’t consist with the child or the children in the classes needs. The level of education is based on assessment by professionals. It then offers alternatives to supporting those who may need extra help with support systems, sna, resource teachers, special needs classes. But allows for more integration where possible as part of main stream schooling. The act defines needs and how appropriate education should be implement in case where a child cannot attend a mainstream. An assessment then needs to be made and after the NCSE must prepare individual educational plan for the child. Then with the SENO they help co-ordinate the plan alongside the school’s implementation. Its Specifies the duty of the minister of education and science and the minister for health and children to make sure extra resources are there and available for the education plans to be applied into the school day.
Ciara O’ Mahony
Evaluation of My findings.
From my research it safe to say that in the past 50 or so years we have come a long way from improvement regarding special needs education and still have a long way to go. We have seen the implementation of many acts and legislation changes. From a country who saw special needs children and a nuisance to society to inclusion and integration in our schools and communities. Active learning and integration play a key part in how our educational curriculum and using multi-disciplinary approaches, teacher training and sna workers. We have also seen a big change in early education for children with special needs such as the new AIMS model. Which will play a key role in how a child starts and how they will cope in a primary school setting. It also allows for early assessment as observations will be carried out and areas of support will be seen by trained early educators.
However, we have seen some improvement in relation to early years and primary but secondary schools are still not helping and support those with special educational needs. There is still a big focus on state examines. Schools need to be more supportive and open to change. They need to allow for new support systems more ASD units and special need classes. For inclusion and integration to ever be met in mainstream schooling we must follow the same from primary, secondary and 3rd level college and to working as part of the community. How can our views and understanding ever change if we don’t work alongside each other? School is a major part in anyone’s lives and this is where we need to learn that we are all different and be kind, caring and compassionate towards everyone regardless of a special need or not otherwise we will never have full inclusion or integration.
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Demonstration of ability to reflect and offer my views and opinions
Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006 it recognises that every person must be given the opportunity to participate in society and to live life to his or her fullest potential. This means that the rights of persons with disabilities are guaranteed. Ireland has demonstrated agreement, but does not yet seem to comply with all articles in the Convention.
In almost every country the concept of special needs education is a major topic. Some countries have instituted laws and educational policies which make students with disabilities no different than other students. others have retained parallel systems for general and special education (Ferguson, 2008)
Many countries and systems are somewhere in the middle, although throughout Europe and North America there has been a shift from the medical approach and the concept of ‘handicap’ to a more educational approach. At the same time, this approach is very complex, and countries are currently struggling with the practical implementation of a viable special needs programme. For European and international policy, the current tendency is towards including pupils with special educational needs into mainstream schools. To provide an important foundation for ensuring equality of opportunity for people with special needs in all aspects of their life. (Meijer, 2003)
The European Agency for the Development of Special Needs Education (EADSNE) identifies three distinctive approaches adopted by different countries to school placement:
• One-track – almost all pupils in mainstream.
• Multi-track – multiplicity of approaches to inclusion, the most common approach. (Riddell, 2006)
Spain, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, for example are often considered a one-track approach while almost all pupils are located within mainstream education; Denmark, France, Ireland, are considered to have a multi-track approach involving a multiplicity of approaches with a variety of services between the mainstream and special systems
(for example, mainstream education, special classes in mainstream schools and special schools)
and the two-track approach could be applied to Switzerland and Belgium for example as they have two distinct education systems. In this way, mainstream and special schools run in parallel (Education, 2003)
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Funding is a significant factor in determining inclusion and research shows that decentralised funds for special educational needs create inclusive school environments. Policies on funding provision for additional services to students vary from country to country. Funding should be linked to the student and should follow the student as he or she moves to appropriate educational settings. In the Commission’s view, it is not appropriate to link funding levels, teacher allocations or staff student ratios to diagnostic disability categories. The level of funding or other supports must relate to need, rather than to diagnostic categories, since there is no necessary link between these two concepts and can be reassessed.
School managements should be encouraged to move towards inclusiveness by a range of incentives and supports which would enable them to develop programmes and support structures for inclusion. Support should not be provided in the form of non-specific grants: it should be given for specific planned reforms, development of materials, appropriate in-career programmes, and physical adjustments to buildings. School managements who make good progress towards being an inclusive school should be awarded a “Positive to Disability” symbol of excellence, the aim is to change our way of thinking and to work with all children, families and teachers.
If teachers don’t have the correct training and understanding how are the expected to achieve the best for all the children, they teach. The same will go for the children if a teacher/career doesn’t understand them well why would they want to work and progress if it doesn’t make you happy then why do it. It is very sad that this is still the type of world we live in where “SPECIAL NEEDS” are still seen as different but there is progress and with a lot more done we will achieve and see amazing results.
Ciara O’ Mahony
Table of content
Outlining of Special Needs in Ireland
Education/Childcare sector in an Irish context
Current legislation relating to special needs in Ireland
Evaluation Of my finding
Demonstration of reflection and views
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Flood, E. (2013). Assisting children with special needs. an Irish perspective. 2nd ed.
Coolahan, J. (1981). Irish education. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration.
Education.ie. (2018). online Available at: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/A-Brief-Description-of-the-Irish-Education-System.pdf Accessed 8 Oct. 2018.
Anon, (2018). online Available at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1999/act/14/enacted/en/htm Accessed 8 Oct. 2018.
Deka, S. (2016). Book Review: Diversity, Special Needs and Inclusion in Early Years EducationDimitriadiSophia (ed.), Diversity, Special Needs and Inclusion in Early Years Education.New Delhi: SAGE Publications. 2015. 226 pages. ?1095 Hardback. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 13(2), pp.256-260.
www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/Evaluation-Reports-Guidelines/insp_inclusion_students_sp_ed_needs_pp_guidelines_pdf viewed 08/10/2018.
Frontline-ireland.com. (2018). FROM EXCLUSION TO INCLUSION | Frontline Magazine. online Available at: https://frontline-ireland.com/from-exclusion-to-inclusion/ Accessed 19 Sep. 2018.
Authority, N. and Authority, N. (2018). Education | The National Disability Authority. online Nda.ie. Available at: http://nda.ie/Disability-overview/Key-Policy-Documents/Report-of-the-Commission-on-the-Status-of-People-with-Disabilities/A-Strategy-for-Equality/A-Strategy-for-Equality-Report-of-the-Commission-on-the-Status-of-People-with-Disabilities/Education/ Accessed 8 Oct. 2018.
Gillmacmillan.ie. (2018). online Available at: http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/AcuCustom/Sitename/DAM/056/Assisting_Children_with_Special_Needs_-_Look_Inside_Sample.pdf Accessed 7 Sep. 2018.
Chevron notes, 2016
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