Terms of Enrolment For Autism Class
About our School
We in the Autism Unit in St Audoen’s NS want to give the highest quality of education to our children. We want the individual to grow to his/her full potential. Our aim is that this education will prepare each child for life to the best of his/her ability. We recognise and value the role of parents as the primary educator of their children. Together we can provide the skills for a loving approach to learning. We take an eclectic approach to teaching our pupils. We don’t subscribe exclusively to any one approach to the education of children with Autism. However, we employ an ethos that is based upon the TEACCH method.
Aim of Autism Class
The aim of the unit is to provide a caring learning environment which facilitates the nurturing of each pupil’s full educational potential. The achievement of this aim informs all of the planning processes and activities which occur in our school. The Principal, Teachers, Support staff and Parents are partners in their children’s education with co-operation and communication between home and school being vital ingredients in the educational process. We share the same purpose – the care and well being of the children in our care. A great emphasis is placed on the areas of communication, daily living skills, socialisation and literacy. Demand for places far exceeds capacity. Each child’s placement in the unit will be reviewed after a two year period following a psychological assessment and input from the multi–disciplinary team.
Established in August 2013 under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills, our Autistic Class offers a specialised educational service to children who have been fully diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The unit strives to create a supportive and caring environment for each pupil.
With a team of dedicated teachers and special needs assistants, the school provides individual attention in small classes catering for the uniqueness of each pupil’s personality.
Families of students are encouraged to participate in the development of their child’s learning.
The aim is to enable the children to attain their educational potential and fulfil their role in society.
Our Mission: Real Education for Real Life.
Routines and General Information
1. The school day runs from 8.50am to 1.30pm/2.30pm. These times are governed by the Department of Education and Skills Rules for NationalSchools and having been fully agreed upon with the Department’s inspectorate.
2. Children are not allowed to enter the school building until 8.50am
3. There is a 10 minute break at 10.45am and lunch is at 12.30pm
4. The children are dismissed at either 1.30pm or 2.30pm. The children are expected to leave the school under the direction of the unit’s staff. They are to be met at the front gate by their parents, transport provided or by respite staff.
5. A list of class activities will be sent to you by the class teacher during the year, participation depending on each individual child’s abilities. A list of school holidays and closures will also be sent to you.
6. As per mainstream schooling, parents are expected to contribute towards the cost of school books, stationery and extra- curricular activities as they occur.
Each child to whom the school attendance act applies is obliged by law to attend school every day on which the school is in operation, unless there is a reasonable excuse for not attending. The school authorities are obliged to notify the school attendance officer when a child is absent on a regular basis or if a reasonable excuse has not been provided for an absence by the child’s parents.
Parents/ Guardians are asked to ring the school if their child is absent. This should be followed by a note written in the child’s home/school diary. If a child needs to leave early a written note must be sent to the class teacher or the school informed by phone.
When you want to speak to a teacher
We realise that it may be difficult for some to get to St Audoen’s NS. Please remember that you are always welcome. It is impossible, however for teachers or other staff members to talk to parents if they arrive unexpectedly. Please ring and make an appointment to see the teacher/Principal through the school secretary.
Parent/Teacher meetings are usually held in November. Constant communication and monitoring of progress is achieved through the school/home diary.
Information we need
In order for us to be entrusted with the care of your child, we require the following information:
- Emergency contact numbers and procedures
- Likes and dislikes
- Medical needs
- Hygiene needs
- Family members and
- Extended family and friends
Changes in family circumstances eg the arrival of a new baby, moving home, the death of a grandparent etc can have an effect on your child. You may wish to notify the class teacher of any such changes.
A large part of our school programme for you child is building up his/her independence. We want them to be able to manage and look after their own clothing and belongings.
You can help us by:
1. Choosing clothes and shoes that make life easier for your child. (Buttons, zips and laces sometimes cause problems. Velcro runners and elastic waistbands are simplest.)
2. School tracksuits are a must for PE days
3. Please put your child’s name on everything that is worn to school.
4. Keeping a change of clothes in the school for your child is an available option.
5. All money sent to school should be in an envelope and clearly labelled.
Everybody works best when they feel clean and comfortable. Hygiene is a whole school issue. With this in mind we encourage parents to:
- Keep children’s nails short
- Check hair regularly for lice
- Send in a change of clothes (nappies/sanitary towels) when required.
Every child’s health is important to us. In order to ensure the highest standard of medical care, the following have been agreed:
- Home is the best place for a sick child
- Wounds should be properly dressed
- Please notify us of any medication that your child may be taking
- As a rule, teachers are unable to administer medication with consultation with the Board of Management. Please contact the Principal for arrangements.
- Never send medication to school with your child. It should always be handed from adult to adult.
Please inform the school if your child has a special dietary requirement or any food allergies.
Children are expected to do a reasonable amount of homework every night, except Friday. This homework should be signed either at home or by the carers at respite. In most circumstances, this will involve some time to hear reading, spellings, checking handwriting, drawing or sums.
Information and Communication Technology
All the children have access to computers whether in the autism unit, mainstream classroom or the school’s computer room. The staff will also consider the need for assistive technology if it arises and if resources allow. Applications for assistive technology are dealt with by the area Special Education Needs Officer.
Staggered break times are in existence until it is the professional decision of the staff that the children are confident enough to seek out their friends from the mainstream school to play with. The Principal and staff are vigilant at all times in the play area and a supervision system is in place.
The Board of Management of St Audoen’s NS has set out this policy in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Education Welfare Act 2000, the Equal Status ACT 2000, and Education for Persons with Special Needs Act 2004.
The Autism Unit was established in August 2013, funded and resourced by the Department of Education and Skills. This school policy has regard to the funding, resources, services and space available.
Health Service Executive Input
Essential services are provided by the Health Service Executive. These services include Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy. St. Audoen’s NS has no control over these services, but may sometimes act as a relevant setting for their provision. All queries about these services must be addressed to the Health Service Executive.
The Board of Management reserves the right of admission within the terms of this policy. The Board of Management will not, however refuse a child on the basis of:
- Disability (Severity of Diagnosis)
- Traveller status
- Political beliefs
- Family or social circumstances.
All the children must fulfil the enrolment criteria.
The process of enrolment begins with:
- A referral from the Autism team or a telephone call or visit in person from the parents
- A school application form, showing family details and medical history is completed. This application must be accompanied by an up-to-date educational psychological assessment and diagnostic report.
- Fully completed applications are then recorded in the applications file
- Entry into this file secures a place on the list of applicants.
Criteria for Enrolment
Each child in the unit must have a definite diagnosis of Autism. Under guidelines from the Department of Education and Skills, the maximum class size is six pupils.
If the number of children on the list of applicants exceeds the number of places available the following criteria will apply.
- Priority will be given to sisters/brothers of children already in the school
- Catholic children of the Parish community resident within the Parish.
- All other children who live within the Parish boundaries but are not Catholic are entitled to a place if there are vacancies after the children from (1) and (2) have been allocated places
- Children who are Catholic who live outside the Parish are entitled to a place if there are vacancies after (1) (2) and (3) have been allocated places
- Non-Catholic children who live outside the Parish are entitled to a place if there are vacancies after (1) (2) (3) and (4) have been allocated places.
- If spaces are still available they will be allocated as per list of applicants.
- Allocation of a place in the Autism Unit does not guarantee a place in the mainstream classes for any siblings.
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.
The Board of Management of St. Audoen’s NS respects the rights of the existing school community and the children already enrolled. This consideration is paramount when assessing entry to the Autism Unit.
Policy on the Integration and Inclusion of pupils from the Autism Unit 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.
Section 2 of the Education for Persons with Special Needs Act 2004 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 amount of integration/reverse integration that each child receives in St Audoen’s NS is collectively decided upon by those professionals who deal with the child each day i.e. teachers (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. However, the staff’s decision is final.
The policy was formulated so that:
- Teaching staff had well defined guidelines on best practice
- Parents were aware of these practices
- There was consistency throughout the school
- Optimum learning experiences were provided for all the children of the school body.
- To provide a teaching and learning experience that enables pupils with special educational needs to become exposed to learning in a mainstream 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 Autism Unit.
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
- Responsibility for the provision of in-service training and adequate resourcing
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the policy and making relevant adjustment following consultation
- Working with parents and out-of-school agencies.
Special Class Teachers
- Will identify the appropriate curriculum area the child in the Autism Unit should experience
- Ensure SNA support is available during any period of integration
- Collaborate and consult with mainstream teachers in setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant short-term and long term targets
- Assume responsibility for an ongoing IEP in consultation with the relevant support services, parents and the Principal. At present each Special Class Teacher is only obliged to produce one IEP per school year. It is up to the professional opinion of the teacher involved if the IEP needs to be updated more frequently.
- Will differentiate teaching programmes to meet the needs of the child from the Autism Unit
- Provide a suitable seating arrangement in a mainstream setting
- Collaborate with the Special Class Teacher and the SNA
- Provide feedback on progress.
Special Needs Assistants/Care Assistants
Each class will be allocated a number of SNA’s by the area SENO.
Generally, the SNA’S 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 assist the class teacher with the specific goals and targets set down in the child’s IEP.
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. The school insists that a maximum of 2 children per class be integrated at any given time. Early levels of integration into mainstream are on a social level only. The child from the Autism Unit 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 Autism Unit will on a phased basis be introduced to areas of the curriculum appropriate to ability level. Music and/or PE and/or Art classes at will be targeted initially. Integration into these class will continue up through the classes.
The children for the Autism Unit are also fully included in the school sports day.
A policy of reverse integration will be introduced and extends to all classes. This involves:
The child from the Autism Unit being integrated for core curriculum subjects such as Maths and English initially through reverse integration whereby 2/3 children from the mainstream class are withdrawn to join the child in their own environment. It is hoped that this will in the long-term lead to conventional integration into the mainstream class.
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.
Opportunities for in-service staff development in relation to the implementation of workable systems of integration will be provided throughout the school year.