Belvedere College - Special Educational Needs

Special Educational Needs

Special Educational Needs

Information concerning the SEN Model of Support within Belvedere College  S.J., from August 2018

From September 2017, Circular 0014/2017, “Special Education Teaching Allocation”, introduced a revised model for allocating Special Educational Needs (SEN) resources to schools. This document and the, Guidelines for Post Primary Schools Supporting Students with SEN in Mainstream schools, produced in May 2017, by the Department of Education and Skills (DES), are now the guiding principles that form the basis for support for students with SEN within the College.

Belvedere College S.J. has been allocated a specific number of additional teaching support hours per week by the DES, to cater for all students with an identified special educational need. These hours are to be used to provide support, based on the principles laid down in the above documentation so that the students with the greatest need, have access to the greatest level of support. This has been our normal practice to date.

Within the SEN Department, students are provided with support based upon their individualised needs. This support involves liaison with the student themselves, their form tutor and other members of staff. Parents play an integral part in this support system. This support is based on the Continuum of Support framework set out by the Department which, “recognises that special educational needs occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe, and from transient to long term” so that students will, “require different levels of support, depending upon their identified need”. (DES, May 2017, p.6)

The subject teacher has been explicitly recognised as having the primary responsibility for the progress & care of all students in their classroom in the DES Circular 0014/2017 and the Post Primary Guidelines. As this now specifically includes students with educational needs, collaboration between the SEN department staff and subject teachers is invaluable in supporting these students. Support for staff, working with students with SEN in their classroom will be provided though the information above and through continued collaboration throughout the academic year.

The Continuum of Support framework is used to enable us to identify and respond to our students’ needs in a flexible way, which has also been our normal practice to date. It enables us to continue to gather and analyse information and to put supports in place, where necessary. This support will then be reviewed for individual students by their SEN contact person and other interested parties.

Support is based on the identification of an educational need, which can include academic, social and emotional needs, physical, sensory or language and communications difficulties, or for students whose education has been significantly interrupted.

There are three levels of support:

Level One: SUPPORT FOR ALL: Whole school and Classroom support - this will focus on preventative and proactive approaches though testing, providing information for students, staff and parents, alongside whole class support.

Level Two: SUPPORT FOR SOME: This will focus on providing school support for small groups and some individuals on a weekly timetabled basis, or short-term intervention.

Level Three: SUPPORT FOR A FEW: This will provide individualised and specialist support for a number of students on a regular timetabled basis. This will include regular meetings with the individual student’s SEN contact teacher.
From September each year, the SEN team meet our students, who have already been identified as having an educational need. We review their support from the previous year and begin planning for the current year, as necessary. Individual SEN support timetables are issued to those students who fall under the Level Two and Level Three of the Continuum of Support framework as indicated above.

Literacy and Numeracy testing is also carried out for all First years during the academic year. This is for the College to have a baseline assessment for all incoming students. This testing will be used in conjunction with individual scores from the assessment for incoming students, Cognitive Ability Testing (CAT4), which is completed after students receive a place in Belvedere. The scores from the CAT4 are primarily used to make sure classes are of mixed ability within the College. The baseline testing, information from the student’s primary school, parents and the CAT4 results, is then used to identify if a student has any particular difficulties in literacy or numeracy. This information will be available for staff as requested.

The SEN Model of Support document forms the basis of the Whole School Plan for Students with Special Educational Needs this academic year. It is based on Circular 0014/2017 and the Post Primary Guidelines as indicated above. The Circular and the Post Primary guidelines indicate that there is no longer a requirement to have an educational assessment from a psychologist to identify if a student a has a specific, academic based, educational need, to receive school support.

The SEN team continue to use our Group or Individual Support Plans to document, plan and review support that will be put in place each academic year for those students who fall within the Support for Some (Level Two) or Support for a Few (Level Three), Continuum of Support framework. These documents form the basis of support provided for specific students, along with additional information available to teachers through VS ware and the Private & Confidential Register of Students with Special Educational Needs for Staff, which is made available at the beginning of the academic year and reviewed in the following January term. 

The Core SEN team take on specific responsibility for a year group, each year. This will mean that this SEN teacher will be the first point of contact, providing support for form tutors, year heads and subject teachers, concerning a student with SEN, in a particular year. The SEN Coordinator is also available, along with senior management, as necessary. Members of the Core SEN team have the opportunity of working with a specific year group in order to build up a rapport and understanding of specific student’s needs and the year groups’ educational needs. This leads to greater consistency and support for the students, their parents and guardians, mainstream staff and management.

This is the SEN Core team from September 2018:

First Year: Ms Sarah Behan at
Second Year: Ms. Ciara Crosbie at (currently on maternity leave until December 2018 – support will be covered by Val Hamilton until then)
Third Year: Ms. Nuala Sheridan at
Fourth Year: Mr. Noel McKenna at
Fifth Year: Ms. Divinia Lyons at
Sixth Year: Ms. Val Hamilton at

Please note, both the Core SEN team and the Learning Support staff will still be working with individual students, who they have been working with previously, as appropriate and within the confines of the overall SEN timetable, as well as being responsible for a specific year group. 

Further information concerning the Model of Support document, which now forms the basis for our Whole School Plan for students with Special Educational Needs for Belvedere College S.J., will be available, once it has been reviewed by the Board of Management, senior management team, staff representatives and parents.

If you have any further concerns, please contact Val Hamilton, SEN Coordinator, by email, as indicated above.

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