Enrolment Policy and General Guidelines for
The Arc ASD Class
Tullamore Educate Together National School (ETNS) is an equality based school under the Patronage of Educate Together. Tullamore ETNS is funded by the Department of Education and Skills, it is run by a Board of Management, it follows the state curriculum and it is subject to inspection exactly like every other state primary school in the country. All Educate Together schools are co-educational vertical schools – there are eight classes from Junior Infants to Sixth Class. All Educate Together Schools are equality based which means that irrespective of belief system, race, ethnicity, class, gender or ability, all children have equal right of access subject to availability of places in any given year.
The Arc, ASD Class in Tullamore ETNS is opening in September 2016 under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills. The Arc, ASD Class, will offer a specialised educational service to children who have been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as the primary disability.
Initially it will cater for one class of six children.
About The Arc
We, in the The Arc in Tullamore ETNS aspire towards providing the highest quality of education for our children. We want each individual to grow to his/her full potential. Our aim is that our education provision will prepare each child for life to the best of his/her ability. We recognise and value the role of parents as the primary educators of their children. We will take an eclectic approach to teaching our pupils. We won’t subscribe exclusively to any one approach in relation to the education of children with Autism. However, we will employ an ethos that is based upon the TEACCH method and use an eclectic approach in many instances. Where there are more than two new pupils enrolled at any one time we may operate a staggered enrolment for the initial weeks of the school year.
The Aims of The Arc
The Arc will strive to create a supportive and caring environment for each pupil. With a team of dedicated teachers and special needs assistants, the school will provide individual attention in small classes catering for the uniqueness of each pupil’s condition, personality and needs.
We aim to develop the full potential of every child in our special class.
We will address the challenges they face, be it academic, social or emotional and aid them with skills and strategies to overcome these challenges in order to live a full and happy life.
We will endeavour to work in partnership with our parents and professional agencies to extend every opportunity for success to our children.
We will provide a positive, stimulating, child centred environment in which the children in our care are supported to be both confident and happy in developing their potential skills and talents.
Our Mission: To Learn Together to Live Together
Health Service Executive Input
Essential services will be provided by the Health Service Executive. These service may include Speech and Language therapy and Occupational therapy. Tullamore ETNS has no control over these services, merely acting as the relevant setting for their provision. All queries about these services must be addressed to the Health Service Executive and not Tullamore ETNS.
Enrolment /Admissions Policy
The Board of Management of Tullamore ETNS has set out this policy in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act1998, the Education Welfare Act 2000, the Equal Status ACT 2000, and the Education for Persons with Special Needs [EPSEN] Act 2004 which has yet to be fully implemented.
This school policy has regard to the funding, resources, services and space available at any given time.
The Board of management reserves the right of admission within the terms of this policy.
All the children must fulfil the enrolment criteria. All children seeking enrolment must have a definitive diagnosis of Autism as per psychological report and have a written professional recommendation for a place in an ASD Class in a mainstream setting. Under guidelines from the Department of Education and Skills the maximum class size in The Arc is six pupils.
This process begins with
- A referral from the HSE Early Intervention Team and HSE 5-18 School Age Team or a telephone call or visit in person from the parents.
- A school Pre Admissions form is then completed. This application must be accompanied by an up to date educational psychological assessment and diagnostic report from the relevant professional which confirms diagnoses of ASD in line with current DES criteria.
- Fully completed applications are then recorded filed in the School Enrolment file.
- All the above information will be forwarded to the Special Educational Needs Officer (SENO) as part of the admissions process.
- All applications to The Arc will be assessed before admission by a multi- disciplinary team which may consist of the following members: Principal of Tullamore ETNS; Class Teacher for The Arc; NEPS Representative; HSE Representative – member(s) of the Early Intervention Team/School Age Team; SENO
The multi-disciplinary team will review all applications to The Arc. Verification of The Arc’s suitability to meet the applicants’ needs will be discussed. Recommendations will be made to the Board of Management of Tullamore ETNS around each application. Admission to The Arc remains the responsibility of the Board of Management.
The local schools with Special Classes for pupils’ with Autism endeavour to offer their places at the same time.
- Places are offered on a needs basis; it is not a first come first served basis.
- Places should be offered in the last week in February/first week in March. The school will inform all applicants in writing if they have or have not been offered a place.
- Confirmation of acceptance must be received within 14 days of receiving an offer of a place complete with required documentation.
- Failure to do so will result in the forfeiting of the place and a new application must be made to reinstate the child on the list of applicants for placement in subsequent years.
Once the place has been offered and accepted in writing, a standard school enrolment form must be completed along with Transport form (if required) as supplied by NCSE.
To support the enrolment procedure the following documents will be required:
NCSE Enrolment Form
POD (Primary Online Database) form
Please note that the fulfilling of the enrolment criteria does not necessarily ensure enrolment if:
- Necessary resources pertaining to the enrolment are not available
- Sufficient classroom space is not available.
Please note also if a child from the ASD class voluntarily leaves the school and returns at a later date he/she will forfeit their place in the class and so they must repeat the admissions process.
The policy was formulated so that:
- Teaching staff have well defined guidelines on best practice.
- Parents are fully aware of these practices.
- There is consistency throughout the school.
- Optimum learning experiences are provided for all children in an age appropriate environment.
- To provide a teaching and learning experience that enables pupils with Special Educational Needs to become exposed to learning in a mainstream setting and a special class setting.
- To enable the children in the mainstream classes to observe and interact with children with special needs, encouraging understanding and tolerance.
- To develop the social skills and self esteem of the children in The Arc to enable them transfer as seamlessly as possible to an appropriate second level setting
- Ongoing enrolment in The Arc will be kept under review. If the school authorities and relevant professionals, in consultation with parents/guardians, feel that the pupil’s placement is no longer appropriate full integration into a mainstream placement at Tullamore ETNS or at another national school may be considered.
- It is school policy to facilitate the discharge of the pupils from the class once they have reached the
age of 12
- Pupils who reach the age of 12 after September 30th in any school year may complete that particular
academic year in the school resulting in a June discharge.
Integration and Inclusion of pupils from The Arc into Mainstream Classes
The need for a policy on inclusion developed from the collective desire of the teaching staff to have a defined and uniform whole school approach to the issue of integration. The policy was devised following consultation with all stake holders including the Principal, mainstream and special class teachers, the National Educational Psychological Service, The National Council for Special Education and the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science.
Section 2 of the Education for Persons with Special Needs Act 2004 (Epsen Act) states; “A child with special educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs unless the nature or degree of those needs of the child is such that to do so would be inconsistent with:
- “the best interests of the child as determined in accordance with any assessment carried out under this act, or
- the effective provision of education for children with whom the child is to be educated.”
The school promotes a policy of integration with age appropriate peers on a social level and ability appropriate on a curriculum level. It may not always be possible to integrate children in their age equivalent class due to the age profile of the children in The Arc. The children will, as stated in our discharge policy, leave our school to prepare for an appropriate Secondary School placement on the June after their 12th birthday or having completed an eight year primary school cycle.
The level of integration/ reverse integration that each child will receive in Tullamore ETNS is collectively decided upon by those professionals who deal with the child each day i.e. teachers (both special education teachers and mainstream), the Principal and support staff. The views of other interested parties such as Psychologists, Speech Therapists and Occupational therapists will be taken into account when making these decisions. The subjects for which the children are integrated will depend on the interests and needs of the child. It will also be reviewed and evaluated regularly. Parents will be consulted on an ongoing basis and their feedback will play an integral part in deciding upon the appropriate level of integration. The Board of Management ultimately rubber stamps decisions on appropriate levels of integration.
With reference to the Education for Persons with Special Needs Act 2004, the role of the Principal entails:
- Direct responsibility for co-ordinating an effective whole school approach to integration. This may be delegated to the Deputy Principal or a post holder depending on circumstances.
- Responsibility for the provision of in-service training and adequate resourcing.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the policy and making relevant adjustments following consultation.
- Working with parents and out of school agencies.
- Establishing a robust self-evaluation procedure.
Special Class Teachers:
- Will identify the appropriate curriculum strands the child in The Arc should experience.
- Will collaborate and consult with mainstream teachers in setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant short term and long term targets.
- Will assume responsibility for an ongoing IEP in consultation with the relevant support services, parents and the Principal. Initially the Special Class teacher is only obliged to produce one IEP per school year. The professional opinion of the teacher dictates if the IEP needs to be updated more frequently. This decision is taken in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.
- Will differentiate teaching programmes to meet the needs of the child from The Arc.
- Will provide a suitable seating arrangement in a mainstream setting.
- Will collaborate with the special class teacher and the S.N.A.
- Will provide feedback on progress.
- Will contribute to the IEP.
Special Needs Assistants/ Care Assistants
Each class is allocated two SNAs by the area SENO. Generally, the SNAs, are allocated to the school and employed by the Department of Education. They are not assigned to any one child and there is great scope in their job specification to move between classes when needs arise. Their main role is to provide for the care needs of the child and to assist the class teacher with the specific goals and targets set down in the child’s IEP in an inclusive setting, where access to the curriculum is prioritised.
The school promotes a policy of integration with age appropriate peers on a social level and ability appropriate on a curriculum level.
The policy is open to review at all times. Early levels of integration into mainstream are on a social level only. The child from the The Arc will not partake in general class learning until they have mastered the art of :
- Entering the class without trepidation.
- Sitting down at a designated desk
- Interacting on a social level with the child (ren) nearest them.
- Having lunch with the whole class
- Engaging in a “buddy system” at playtime.
- Acting on general teacher instructions within the classroom setting.
Having adjusted on a social level, the child from The Arc will, on a phased basis, be introduced to areas of the curriculum appropriate to ability level. The level of integration into a mainstream class for a core curriculum subject will be on an individual basis only and will differ from child to child. The school will retain discretion as to the particular children who should avail of core curriculum mainstream integration. It is hoped that integration into the chosen class will continue up through the years.
Reverse integration whereby children from the mainstream classes are withdrawn to join the special needs children in their own environment. It is hoped that in the long term this will lead to ease of integration into the mainstream class.
Children from the mainstream classes will also engage in life skills integration.
A timetabled buddy system involving the children from the The Arc and children from the mainstream classes will be operational for all playtimes throughout the year until such time as the children with special needs are comfortable in their surroundings and can engage in independent play under the supervision of an SNA.
The Board of Management will continue to monitor the implementation of all aspects of this policy which will be reviewed and amended as appropriate in the school year 2016/17