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Special Educational Needs

In St. David’s Holy Faith Secondary School, Special Educational Needs are defined in accordance with the EPSEN Act 2004:

‘Special educational need’ means, in relation to a person, ‘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 and cognate words shall be construed accordingly.’

While the definition in the Act does not refer to students with Emotional Behaviour Difficulties (EBD), section 7 (4) (B) of the Equal Status Act 2000 does indicate a category of Special Needs
in this case and the school will be mindful of such students also in providing for special needs.


You can access a copy of the school's Special Educational Needs Policy by clicking on the image to the left or by accessing the full list of the school's policies on our policies page

In St. David’s Holy Faith Secondary School, we use the DES Continuum of Support framework to engage in the process in identifying and responding to our students’ needs. This framework recognises that SEN occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe, from transient to long term, and that students require different levels of support depending on their individual needs. Using this framework helps to ensure that interventions are incremental, moving from class-based interventions to more intensive and individualised support and that they are informed by careful monitoring of progress. (DES Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools: Supporting Students with SEN in Mainstream Schools, p.6)

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Ms Tara Noone is a Home Economics teacher in our school and holds an Assistant Principal 2 role with responsibility for the administration, coordination and implementation of the school's SEN policies.

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Ms Deirdre Doughty is an economics and history teacher in our school and holds an Assistant Principal 2 role with responsibility for the administration, coordination and implementation of the school's SEN policies.

St. David’s Holy Faith Secondary School operates a policy of early identification of the needs of SEN students. We coordinate closely with all feeder schools during the transition from primary to secondary education.

Prior to school entry: 

CAT4 tests are carried out. The SEN Coordinator identifies any students with diagnosed Special Needs
from the Enrolment Form.  The SEN Coordinator generates a list of students with an Irish exemption
based on data gathered by the principal.  The SEN Coordinator meet with, or where necessary contacts by telephone, the Primary School Teachers in each feeder to school to discuss incoming students’ transition.  Applications to the NCSE are made for SNA hours or Assistive Technology for
incoming students, where applicable.  School management meet with each incoming first years and their parent/guardian individually in April/May

​​Upon school entry:
Students of St David's are continually monitored for any developing needs. The following is a sample of identification methods employed in St David's:


  • New Group Reading Test (NGRT) and PDST Maths Competency Test

  • Assessments - where deemed appropriate Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT5), Diagnostic Reading and Spelling 

  •  Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III)

  •  Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH)

  •  Teacher observations

  •  Meetings of Principal, Deputy Principal, SEN Coordinators, Guidance Counsellor, SNA, Year Heads, Subject teachers, Parents and students

Timetabling for SEN students is determined by the New Allocation Model, Circular No 0013/2017 and the Continuum of Support Guidelines:


  •  Whole school and Classroom Support for All

  •  School Support for Some

  •  School Support Plus for a Few

The level and nature of support reflects the specific needs of students as set out in their support plans and is informed by careful monitoring and review of progress. Special Education teaching supports are identified by needs, ensuring those with the highest level of need have access to the greatest level of support. Hours are then allocated by management in the following ways:


  • Small Group Teaching

  • Team Teaching

  • Individualised Teaching

  • SEN Administration

The needs of the student are evaluated in accordance with procedure for referral of students with special needs, as outlined in section 1 of the document and with reference to the Continuum of Support Guidelines for Teachers.

Time is allocated on the following basis:


  • Student needs

  • Resource time allocated to the Department

One to one support will be given if the student’s needs cannot be addressed within a
group situation. Small groups for learning support are selected based on student compatibility and on
the subject area to be covered.

Special tuition is organised according to the recommendations of the Psychologist and in consultation with parents, SET Team, class teachers and the principal. It can include exercises and activities in the areas of Literacy, Numeracy, Examination Preparation and Curriculum Support.  Literacy exercises will cover exercises in English language comprehension, reading, writing and spelling. This will involve all
subjects in accordance with the whole school approach to Literacy. Numeracy exercises will cover exercises in mathematics computation and concepts. This will involve numeracy elements in all subjects in accordance with a whole school approach to numeracy. Examination preparation will cover study skills, exam paper practice and RACE practice.  Curriculum Support will cover support in subjects on the student’s timetable. This will only be organised in consultation with the relevant class teachers.

The 11 week rotation
St. David’s operates an 11 week rotation of student support throughout the school year, split into 3 blocks. For each rotation, students are identified for targeted support and intervention in the above named areas. Teachers work with students on the identified area for 11 weeks, at the end of which, the need for further supports and interventions are reviewed. The aim of this programme of support is to provide targeted intervention for students who are struggling or with an identified need and to assess the level of need of the student for further, ongoing learning support.

Organisations/Professionals with whom the SEN department works with:

  •  The National Council for Special Education Needs (NCSE)

  •  The National Education Welfare Board (NEWB)

  •  The Health Executive

 In accordance with this act, the school will work with the local SENO

  •  The local NEPS psychologist

  •  The local resource teachers for Travellers

  •  The Blind and the Hearing impaired

  • Psychologists, or psychiatrists from the social welfare Department and the Health Executive and any other relevant professionals in providing an integrated response to the needs of any particular student.

Ms Ann-Marie McGloin is a St David's Holy Faith's Special Needs Assistant and has responsibility over the care and support of students who have been deemed by the Department of Education to qualify for an SNA.


Ms Rachel Flynn is a St David's Holy Faith's Special Needs Assistant and has responsibility over the care and support of students who have been deemed by the Department of Education to qualify for an SNA.

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Classroom support will be the most common response to emerging needs .The subject teacher and the SEN Coordinator will discuss the nature of the problem and consider strategies which may be effective.

Actions May Include:
- Specific classroom strategies
- Individualised teaching methodologies
- Differentiation

Roles and Responsibilities:

The Subject Teacher:
- Liaises with parents
- Seeks advice from the SEN Team
- Maintains a record of relevant information 

The SEN Coordinators:
- Provide advice and resources to subject teacher to assist him/her in the developmen of classroom support

Senior Management:
- Note that a Classroom Support process is being implemented 

Other Professionals:
- Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists etc. may be
indirectly involved, offering consultation or advice via the SEN Coordinators

The Review Process:
A review of Classroom Support actions may involve the subject teacher, parents and student and should focus on progress made by the student. 
The outcome may be that the student continues to have a Classroom Support Plan, no longer requires a Classroom Support Plan or School Support will be initiated

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