Special Education Needs
Special Units Manual
Following discussion at a recent General Members Meeting a working group of experienced principals and board members was established to identify the issues and needs of schools who are opening new Special Needs units. The output of this group was the ASD unit manual. This forms a guide to schools who wish to open a special unit. It builds on the knowledge gained from schools who have gone through the process to date.
The Department of Education's policy on the education of children with special needs is for them to be taught in mainstream schools wherever possible. Educate Together has been one of the pioneers in the establishment and operation of Special Needs and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) units.
To date ten Educate Together schools have dedicated ASD units and all new school building programmes have ASD unit capacity designed in. Last year for example Tyrellstown and Carlow Educate Together schools opened ASD units and Donabate Portrane will open their unit in September 2012.
As the establishment and operation of an ASD unit can present school management with considerable challenges, a General Members Meeting was held in June 2010 to examine the concerns regarding the setting up of ASD/SNU Units attached to Educate Together schools. The concerns were numerous and covered many areas such as - administration duties, management, training of staff, referral procedures, designation of children’s stated difficulties, appropriate placement for the child and one which is suitable and benefits the child family and the school so that it is a win, win, situation for all.
A working party of six Educate Together members took on to research information within our schools and report back to Educate Together.
Maeve Corish Principal Donabate ET chairperson of the group
Trish Duffy Chairperson BOM Lucan ET
Aedín Ni Thuathail Principal Castleknock ET
Eddie Fox Principal Lucan East ET
John Kelleher Principal Aston Village Drogheda ET
Paddie Murphy Director, Board of Directors ET
The results of this report and survey have provided the insight to produce the 'School guide to opening outreach classes for children with autism' which will be available to download shortly.The group met on three occasions and put together a report and recommendations for the organisation. A survey of schools was also conducted.