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The ‘New Model’ for resourcing schools for catering from children with additonal learning needs

Clarification of  ‘new model’  for  teaching of children with Special  Educational Needs and/or  Learning Difficulties


There is much talk in the media at the moment about a ‘new model’ of resourcing schools to maximally teach and support children  who are in manistream classes but who have a requirement of  extra help in order to achieve the proposed  learning atttainment levels for their age-group, class level and in keeping with their abilities.

Let me explain this ‘new model’ and how it applies to the educational experience of children in Balbriggan Educate Together NS.

1st layer: First of all, the most important manner in which all children are taught and learn  in this school, to very good effect as witnessed in our  attainment tests, is through quality teaching by the mainstream teacher in all  areas of the national curriculum. Specifically, the teacher here ‘differentiates’ his/her teaching to different levels of  intelligence/capabilities of the children in the class; teaching the whole class the same topic but making it more challenging for the  stronger students and making more gradual smaller-steps and accomodations  for those who find the material  challenging.  We call this ‘differentiation’ and it is the most important teaching aspect of catering  for the needs of children who  are all learning at different rates according to their own intelligences, motivations, capabilities and learning styles. Our average class size in the school, 22, is eight children fewer than in the vast majority of other schools. This is becasue we have a recognition by the Department of Education called DEIS status ,  a state-funded initiative to  equalise the potential of all schools  to meet the highest standards of  learning attainment for its students.

2nd Layer: Secondly, in our school  we have  seven Learning Support teachers. This is far more than in the majority of  other schools,and again  is becasue our school has got what is called DEIS status, Five of these Learning Support teachers  are attached to a smaller cluster of classes ( eg Monmon is attached to the  four Senior Infants and 1st classes) .  The Learning Support teacher, according to criteria ( as set out in our Learning Support Policy available on and on request ) and in collaboarion with the class teachers tests and observations, works closely with identified children in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy . Our Learning Support teachers work both ‘in the classroom’ and by individual- or group- withdrawal with these children in order to ‘scaffold’ their learning.  Our two further Learning Support teachers offer specific Literacy Programmes ( Reading Recovery) and Numeracy programmes ( Maths recovery) to selected children  according to very specific criteria as set out in those programmes. The aim of Leanring Support is to  support the learning of the child in the mainstream classroom setting so that he/she is  achieving the most success and getting the most value, all day long,  out of the differentiated teaching by the mainstream teacher.

Though this  will not be confirmed properly unitl mid-February, we have no reason to fear that  the picture I have outlined so far will change in the ‘new model’ as announced yesterday by the Minister for Education.

Thirdly, there is another layer of  teaching and support offered to  children in our school, delivered by our Special Education team consisting of three teachers.  Specifically, under the  old model  this  further layer of teaching and support is given to children who have identified Special Needs according to  scripted formal reports written by Psychologists, Speech and Language therapists or Medical Doctors referring  to specific diagnoses of autism, or specific speech and language disorders, or moderate or profound cognitive disabilities or  specific developmental  or medical  disorders. Again, this team of teachers  work in collaboration with the class teacher on specific  specialised  and individualised programmes in order to maximally scaffold the  child in the skills and requisites of  learning to the best of his/her ability in the  differentiated mainstream classroom.

It is in this 3rd layer that the new model comes into effect. The current calculation that allows us three teachers in  this team  has been altered radically, and we do not know if we will experience an increase or a decrease in this number. Furthermore, while prior to this the Principal’s hand was tied with reagrd to what children could avail of this  level of service  ( it was entirely dependent on a bureaucrat-officer , SENO,  from the National Council of Special Education interpreting a written report  favourably or negatively ), in the new model the Principal may make this deicision. However, some criteria will need to apply otherwise the service fo the Special Education Team will be ineffective if there are too many children allocated to it. From the outset, our school will use the following criteria

  • where those children who have written reports from health professionals  that make specific diagnoses ( as listed above), so no change here
  • Where the principal, following on periods of observation  and close consultation with the mainstream class teacher and the Learning Support teacher ( Levels 1 and 2 above) understands the child to have a specific learning difficulty  that has not yet generated a formal written report by a health professional. ( this is new, and is a welcome positive of this new model.

Finally, some children with  specific  special needs are also entitled to  ‘have access’ to an SNA to look after their care and hekth/safety  needs ( the SNA has no teaching role). Whether a child gets access to an SNA at all ,  or whether if so  the access is  full-time or part-time is not affected by this new model and reamins old model.  This  authority remains in the hands of the bureaucratic-officer ( SENO) from the  National Council for Special Education according to her interpretation of written reports by Health Professionals, and remains out of the hands of  the Principal.  We currelty have 3 full-time and 1 part-time SNAs in our school  in oreder to meet the care needs of seven children who have been identified  as ‘having access’ to such a service.

Please feel free to come to the school to discuss any issues arisng here for you or your family or call me on 01 6904635. Feel free to leave a reply to this posting


Fintan ( Principal)

Balbriggan Educate Together

Mini-Newsletter Tuesday December 20th

Winter Concerts: Wednesday December 21st

  • Junior Concert ( JI/SI/1st/2nd and Two Choirs) 30am ( to 11.45pm)
  • Senior Concert ( 3rd/4th/5th/6th and One choir) 12.45pm  ( to 2.00pm)


Winter Holiday:   School Closes  at 12noon on Thursday ( and reopens at 8.40am on Monday January 9th )

Unisex Toilets  Our unisex-bathrooms practice begins on January 9th.  I wish to acknowledge those sets of people who have welcomed this  change and those who have expressed  some concern. Please  see the school’s website today for  further detail.

Seasons greetings: We wish you a happy and peaceful holiday and look forward to a  great  2017

Parent Newsletter  Thursday December  15th

Winter Concerts Wednesday December 21st:

All parents and grandparents  are welcome to the Winter Concerts next Wednesday. We extend a special welcome to any  family visitors you have for the festival season.  We ask that all attending will stay for the full concert ( ie please don’t leave when your own child’s class have performed as this is very disheartening for the other children). Parents may bring your child home, it you wish,  after his/her concert, but in order to do this you must go to the child’s classroom to collect the child and to notify the teacher.

  • Concert 1: Junior Infants/senior Infants/1st/2nd and School Choir: 10.30 am to 11.45 am
  • Concert 2: 3rd, 4th/5th and 6th and school Choir:12. 45pm to 2pm

 2017 Photo Calendars:

The Parent Association’s beautiful calendars, the ‘birthmonth calendars’  for 2017 ( a real must have!!!!!) are now for sale. Officers from the PA will be selling them in the school foyer starting tomorrow ( Friday) and  also Monday, Tuesday  8.30am, 1.20pm and 2.20pm  and at the concerts on Wednesday ( 6euro for 1,  but 15euros for three!)  The children,  and even a few of the teachers,  are looking   fabulous.

School Holiday:

The school closes for the winter holiday at 12noon this Thursday ( 22nd) and reopens at 8.40am on  Monday January 9th. We wish everybody a happy and peaceful time.

Unisex Toilets:

In keeping with the school committment to Equality, on the children’s return to school in January all toilets/bathrooms in the school will be unisex. The children have  been assured that all measures to ensure this transition, and all of their concerns, will be met earnestly by the school in terms of discipline, hygiene, safety, privacy etc. If anybody would wish to discuss this matter  further please contact Fintan (Principal).


Parents are reminded that all Clubs have now finished for the term ( ie there are no Clubs next  Monday, Tuesday or  Wednesday). We hope the boys and girls all enjoyed their clubs.  The Clubs Programme, now in its twenty-second cycle, remains one of the school’s most innovative and  effective projects in terms of teaching and learning.  I can honestly say that the calibre of the Clubs exceeds, in my professional opinion, those offered elsewhere  by private organisations, and at huge expense,  claiming to be catering for the needs of talented/gifted children. Serious thanks are due to the teachers who offer these Clubs, and to the Parent  Association  for undertaking the registration night without which the Clubs-programme would not be possible.  The Spring/Summer Cycle of Clubs kicks off with  its Registration Night on Tuesday March 14th for a ten week cycle.



Friday Assembly Winners December 9th

Congratulations to this week’s Assembly Award winners, many of which relate to great work over our successful STEM week:

Senior Assembly: CormacMc, Kacper, BrandonB( twice) , AlexE, HashirJ,AliK, Lily, Marcelina, Patrycyja, EmilyA, CharlieG, AbdulwarrisJ, JamieK, LukeDC, MollyK, FinnB, BolajiG,

Middle Assembly: JennaD, SophiaD, CianB, Kajus, Jaro, SarahC

Junior Assembly: MiracleA, DylanMc, MelodyU, AnnaMc

Parent Newsletter Monday December 5th

Parent Newsletter  Monday December 5th

1 STEM Week: We hope you enjoyed  the school’s STEM Week. The overarching aim for the week was for the children to enjoy learning in the fields of science, technology , engineering and mathematics, and to self-identify as persons who have talents and a liking for this area.  Big thanks to the Parent Association  and to the school’s Board of Management for their contributions towards the huge costs  of the week. Congrats to the teachers for their inspiring planning, preparation and teaching throughout the week ( and to Elaine Doyle, parent, for her super contribution.  Well done to all the boys and girls on their excellent engagement with all the learning opportunities throughout the week.

2 Winter Concerts: The Winter Concerts will take place on Wednesday December 21st ( yes, Wednesday, not Tuesday as it says in the children’s journals, apologies for this). All parents, grandparents and visitors from  abroad welcome:

Junior Concert ( JI, SI, 1st and 2nd), Wednesday Dec 21st  10.30am to 11.45

                    Senior Concert ( 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th) Wednesday  Dec 21st 12.45 to 2.15

3 Twitter :        We hope that you keep in regular touch with the school’s website , this is the official school website and carries everything important about the school, and is regularly updated with news etc. However, we are also using Twitter   to convey a lot of the ‘colour’ and ‘fun’ that goes on in the school. Please follow us on @balbrigganetns   for a regular feed of pictures of activities and learning in the school.

4 Parent Teacher  Meetings:        Official  and formal Parent Teacher Meetings will take place from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday 14th, 15th and 16th of February.  You will receive an appointment time closer to the time.

5 Flemington Community  Centre:         Kevin Wall ( parent and BOM member attends the Community Meeting  of the next-door Flemington Community  Centre on our behalf.  Here is his report from  these meetings: “ Flemington Local Development Group  This group was set up by Fingal County Council to develop facilities and resources in the Flemington area and meets on a monthly basis, Representatives from local organisations such as Fingal County Council.  Foroige, HSE, Jigsaw, Tusla, Flemington Community Centre and Cairde attend the meeting. Kevin Wall one of the Parent Reps on the Board of Management attends the meeting on behalf of the school. One useful website that you may wish to consult is  The members directory has very useful links to organisations in the area. If you would like any more information about the FLDG you can contact Kevin directly on 086 3112236 or  “

6 Clubs finishing:     Parent are reminded that clubs finish next week ; the last day of each club ( including Homework Clubs) is Monday 12th,Tuesday13th and Wednesday 14th. December.  ( There are no clubs on the 19th, 20th or 21st)

7  Disabled Parking Spaces:     It is a great source of distress and concern to the school, and especially to those parents who legitimately have Disabled Notices for their cars ( issued by HSE/Gardai) that many parents are parking in the set-aside Disabled Spaces. These people legitimately need the disabled spaces for the safe drop and collection of thier children, please ensure that none of the rest of us ( parents, teachers, visitors etc) take up these specifically allocated places (( at the end of the car park near the bicycle-shelter)