Additional Needs Policy

St Brigid’s

Primary, Nursery School, FS/KS 1 Autistic Class and KS2 Learning Support Class


January 2013



1 Mission Statement

2 Definition 

3 Aims

4 Organisation and Operation

4a Nature of Support 

5 Identification, Assessment and Review

6 Criteria for the different stages on the Code of Practice 

7 Provision

a In school

b External

c Arrangements for Supporting Dyslexic Pupils


9 Gifted and Talented Children

10 Record Keeping

11 Monitoring and Evaluation

12 Parental Involvement

13 Complaints

14 Staff Development

15 Links with other agencies 

16 Review and Evaluation 

17a Role of Special Needs Co-ordinator

b Role of Class teacher

c Role of Principal and SLT

18 Implementation and Review of Policy


1 Mission Statement

At St Brigid’s we nurture our pupils to become the best that they can be.  The principle guiding our special needs policy is that each child has curriculum entitlement and that we strive to provide whole school integration.  This school aims to provide a broad and balanced curriculum to meet the individual needs of all pupils. 


2 Definition

The Code of Practice defines special educational needs as a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made.  “Learning difficulty” means that the child has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of his or her age and/or has advisability which hinders his/her use of everyday educational facilities.

“Special educational provision” means educational provision which is different from or additional to the provision made generally for children of comparable age.

                                                            Par 1:4 Special Educational Needs

                                                            Code of Practice – Sept. 1998

In operating this Special Education Needs Policy document we will adhere to the statutory legislation and Catholic ethos and will fulfil our statutory duty under Article 4(2) of the Education (NI) Order 1996 by having regard to the Code of Practice for Special Educational Provision and the Special Needs Disability Order.

For the purposes of this policy Special Educational Needs refers to:

A child who has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of his peer group.  This can be:

a          A pupil, who after following a structured programme, is working more or less at his/her ability but requires some support to maintain this level.

b          A pupil who is progressing slower than expected due to a registered medical condition or a poor attendance pattern.

c          A pupil who is underachieving in comparison to his/her ability, therefore requiring additional support.

d          A pupil who has emotional and/or behavioural difficulties which are impacting on his/her learning.

e          A pupil who has a disability which either prevents or hinders him/her from making use of the educational facilities available to children of a similar            age.

It also refers to:

f           A pupil with high average to exceptional ability who may need special provision.  Such gifted children may need an improvement in the quality of             work rather than in the quantity.


3  Aims of the Special Educational Needs Policy in St Brigid’s Primary and Nursery School, Foundation Stage/Key Stage One Autistic class and Key Stage 2 Learning Support Class.

  • To identify all children requiring additional educational needs in St Brigid’s.
  • To promote the self esteem of all children.
  • To intervene as early as possible and once identification has taken place ensure that there is adequate and appropriate support for all pupils.
  • To provide appropriate support for those pupils by working with colleagues, parents and outside agencies.
  • To provide nurture group support for those children who have social, emotional and/or behavioural needs.
  • To ensure that there is continuous communication between class teachers/support teachers and support teachers/SENCO.  This will be achieved by:
  • Individual meetings with the class teacher and support teacher.
  • Team meetings to discuss targets and progress made on a regular basis.
  • Access to the IEP files. 
  • To develop and evolve as a dyslexic friendly school.
  • To meet the needs of children on the autistic spectrum that have a statement of special educational needs by providing a Foundation/Key stage 1 ASD class.
  • To meet the needs of children with autism and learning difficulties by providing a Key Stage Two Learning Support Class.
  • To ensure whole school involvement in the provision for Special Need Pupils.  All members of the school community, Governors, Principal and Staff.  Parents and outside agencies will work in partnership to ensure continual appropriate provision for pupils with special educational needs.
  • To ensure that our assessment, testing and support is sensitive and does not place excessive demands on the child.
  • To ensure that in the assessment of pupils, due regard is paid to the professional judgement of the teacher, as well as the class performance and family history of the pupil.
  • To develop professional and supportive relationships with all staff and the various external agencies so as to continually improve the quality of our special needs support.
  • To continually target areas for development within special needs so as to ensure all pupils have a curriculum which meets their individual needs and contributes to their progress.
  • To ensure each child will maximise their educational potential and leave St Brigid’s with the core skills of literacy, numeracy and social independence that are required for post primary school

4 Organisation and Operation

Mrs McGowan is the Special Needs Co-ordinator and she has responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the policy.  Currently at St Brigid’s we have two numeracy support teachers and two literacy support teachers.  Mrs McLaughlin from the Key Stage Two Learning Support Class provides numeracy support to children from the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One three mornings per week.  Our nursery teacher Miss McDermott also provides numeracy support to children from Key Stage 2 three afternoons per week.  Miss Harris from the Foundation Stage/Key Stage One ASD Class provides literacy support in the areas of oral language and social skills to children in the Foundation stage and Key Stage one three mornings per week.  Mrs Thompson also provides literacy support for year 2 to year 7 two afternoons a week. 

Mrs McClean, a trained Learning Support Assistant in the Reading Partnership Programme offers support to children underachieving in their reading.  She supports children in year 2 three mornings each week.

Mrs McDowell works in our nurture centre developing the social and emotional skills of year 1-7 pupils four mornings per week.


4a Nature of Support

The overall responsibility for identifying and making provision for a pupil with special educational needs rests with the classroom teacher, who will continually differentiate to cater for all pupils appropriately.  In providing learning support for our pupils, we at St Brigid’s will support pupils in the following ways:

  • withdrawal of small peer groups from class
  • withdrawal of individual children for one to one support
  • a FS KS 1 ASD class for children on the autistic spectrum
  • a KS2 Learning Support Class for children with autism and learning difficulties.
  • collaborative learning  of children from the FS & KS1 ASD class and Key Stage 2 Learning Support Class into mainstream classes
  • the integration of children from mainstream into the FS & KS1 ASD class and Key Stage 2 Learning Support Class
  • use of technology to support children’s learning in both numeracy and literacy.


Currently due to the needs of the present cohort of children requiring support and the desire to target the learning needs of pupils as effectively as possible we as a school acknowledge that this provision is essential in securing maximum effect for the pupils in our care.


5 Identification, Assessment and Review

The learning difficulties of a pupil can be identified in a number of ways.  These are:

  • by a pre-school agency.
  • identified by a parent and related to St Brigid’s.
  • identified by the class teacher as a result of the day to day class work.
  • the result of a medical examination in which it is discovered that the medical problems which a child has are affecting the way that he/she learns.
  • a referral from an outside agency such as a doctor, social services, the hospital and the E.W.O.
  • recorded in a report form for children transferring in to school.

The first principle of the Code of Practice is the early identification and assessment of pupils learning needs to facilitate the earliest intervention.


5a Identification Procedures

The following identification procedures will be implemented:

  • Nursery                       

Teacher observation/monitoring

Parental referral

External agency referral


  • Year 1                          

Teacher observation/monitoring

Parental referral

External agency referral

BPVS for all pupils in October and May

Screening of standardised tests: P.I.M. and P.I.E. by SENCO and Assessment Co-ordinator


  • Years  2-7                    

Teacher observation/monitoring

Parental referral

External agency referral

Screening of standardised tests: P.I.M. and P.I.E. by SENCO and Assessment Co-ordinator.


  • Years 4 & 6                  

C.A.T.S. Intelligence Test


  • ASD Class                    

Teacher observation / monitoring

(FS & KS 1)                 

Parental referral

External agency referral

PEP 3 Assessment Profile

(October - yearly)


  • Learning Support Class 

Teacher observation / monitoring

(KS 2)                         

Parental referral

External agency referral

SNAP Assessment

SNAP-B Assessment


6 Criteria for the different stages on the Code Of Practice

The placement of a child requiring Stage 1 – Stage 5 provision is determined by the needs of the child and by the judgement of the class teacher and SENCO, taking account of all reports by relevant personnel.  The following criteria are applied for the different stages of the Code of Practice.

  • Criteria for stage 1 of the Code of Practice.

This is when concern is expressed by a class teacher of a child not achieving to his/her ability at their level -perhaps a lower score than expected in P.I.M., P.I.E. or the BPVS.  A child’s behaviour may also be causing concern.  Monitoring by the class teacher will take place over two terms with the child being placed at stage one of the Code of Practice.

It is important to note that observations will be made fortnightly about a child’s behaviour and or progress.

  • Criteria for removal of a child at stage 1

When there is no longer cause for concern, the child being monitored is now working at their level and making progress.  If behaviour was the concern they will also be removed from the register provided they have shown improvement and are working within the boundaries of the school rules.


  • Criteria for stage 2 of the code of practice.


If a child scores 85 or less in P.I.M.  The child’s performance in class will also be taken into account.  If the teacher feels that action needs to be taken to address the child’s specific difficulties appropriate targets will be set and the child will be placed at stage 2 of the Code of Practice.

  • Literacy

Again, if a child scores 85 or less in P.I.E.  Similarly, the child’s performance in class will also be taken into consideration.  If the teacher feels that action needs to be taken to address the child’s specific difficulties in literacy appropriate targets will be set and the child will be placed at stage 2 of the Code of Practice.


  • Behaviour

A child’s behaviour is such that they are difficult to manage in class and it is having an impact on their progress.  Links with the nurture centre will be made and appropriate strategies will be put in place in order to manage the child and enable them to make progress.  The child will be at stage 2 of the Code of Practice.


  • Criteria for removal of a child at stage 2

Targets have been achieved and the child no longer needs help.  Although some children may still need monitoring and are placed back to stage one of the code of practice.  Evidence needs to be included by the class teacher and given by the SENCO.


  • Criteria for movement to stage 3 of the Code of Practice

Limited or no progress at stage 2 over a minimum of 2 terms. Parents may also have expressed concern.  GL scores may have decreased.  Referral to our educational psychologist is made and an assessment is carried out.  The child is supported from outside agencies at stage three.


  • Criteria for movement to stage 4 of the Code of Practice

Children will usually be forwarded for statutory assessment on the recommendation of our educational psychologist.  This is because the support recommended and put in place at stage 3 has not enabled the child to make satisfactory progress.


  • Criteria for movement to stage 5 of the Code of Practice

The board has decided to issue a statement on the basis of parental advice, educational advice, medical advice, psychological advice and any other advice which may be considered relevant.



7 Provision in St Brigid’s


a In school

  • Class Size Policy

Currently, the majority of classes (11 out of 13) at St Brigid’s Primary School are limited in numbers at or below the NI pupil teacher ratio average age.  This strategy is currently implemented by the Board of Governors and the Principal to ensure high levels of teacher- pupil ratio in order to support pupils with learning difficulties in Literacy and Numeracy. 


  • Literacy Support Groups

Mrs Thompson is a literacy support teacher who takes groups four afternoons each week.  Children are withdrawn from across the three key stages and given support with their reading, including synthetic phonics, oral/written comprehension and cloze procedure opportunities.  Mr Doherty in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One ASD class also provides Literacy support to children from Foundation Stage and Key Stage One in the areas of oral language and social skills.


  • Numeracy Support Groups

Numeracy support groups are also taken by Mrs McLaughlin in the Key Stage Two Learning Support Class three days per week.  The children in these groups are withdrawn from the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One and given numeracy support with a strong focus on practical work.  Our nursery teacher Miss McDermott also provides numeracy support to children from Key Stage 2 three afternoons per week.



  • Collaborative Learning

In St Brigid’s we also have Collaborative Learning for the children from the Foundation Stage/Key Stage One ASD class and the Key Stage Two Learning Support Class into their mainstream year classes from Monday to Thursday. The activities include planned play, synthetic phonics, early writing, comprehension and numeracy activities.


  • Nurture Centre

Mrs McDowell nurtures/supports children four mornings per week from year 2 to 7 who have social, emotional and/or behavioural needs.  The children also receive some support in Literacy and Numeracy with a focus on oral work.


  • Reading Partnership

Reading Partnership is a programme delivered by a learning support assistant and it focuses on children under achieving in their reading.  Currently, Diane Johnston supports children in Year four and five mornings per week.


b External Agencies

  • Educational Psychology

When teachers, parents and the SENCO are very concerned that a child at stage 2 has made limited progress over the minimum of two terms the pupil will be moved to stage 3 of the Code of Practice and their name will be prioritised on a waiting list to be discussed and possibly assessed by the educational psychologist –attached to the school.  


  •  Western Education and Library Board –Special Needs Department

When teachers, parents and the SENCO agree that a child has not made sufficient progress at stage 3 over a minimum of three terms they are moved to stage 4 of the Code of Practice and formal assessment procedures are initiated for statementing a child.


  • Traveller Support

A Traveller Support Teacher from W.E.L.B. visits the school on a planned basis and provides literacy support for identified pupils in consultation with the SENCO.


  •  Reading Centre

A teacher from the Reading Centre is time-tabled to St Brigid’s one afternoon weekly.  Currently, she is supporting two children with specific reading difficulties.  Children are often referred to the reading centre by the school’s educational psychologist when they are at stage 3 of the Code of Practice. 


Support from the reading centre is given when a child’s IQ is higher than 90 while their GL standardised scores are lower than 85 showing a substantial differential. 

There is now a stronger emphasis from the Reading Centre to advise and up skill individual class teachers to support children in their class rather than one to one support on a withdrawal basis.


  • Literacy Screening Service

Pupils have also been referred to an Educational Psychology Assistant using a LA 1 form when they have been 7 years 5 months.  The outcome of this assessment has been literacy support from the reading centre.


  • West Team

Pupils up to their eighth birthday have been referred to the West Team for an extensive assessment of their needs.  Support has included SALT, OT and PT.


  • Speech therapy

Speech therapists from the W.H.S.S. work with children in the Nursery and in our Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 ASD class and Key Stage 2 Learning Support Class on a regular basis.


  • Autistic Advisory Service

The Autistic Spectrum Advisory Service (ASAS) works in partnership with St Brigid’s parents and teachers to support the personal, social and educational development of children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).


Arrangements for Supporting Dyslexic Pupils

As a school and a staff, we recognise the specific challenges that dyslexic pupils encounter when trying to access the curriculum.  In order to ensure that such pupils have the best learning opportunities as possible, we will at all times endeavour to implement strategies that will facilitate this access.  The strategies that we will implement will include some of the following:


  • WALT is displayed and discussed at the beginning of lessons.
  • The classroom environment is airy, well lit, well organised and movement is minimised as much as possible.
  • There will be consistent links to previous lessons.
  • Sufficient work space will be created for all pupils.
  • Multi-sensory approaches will be utilised during lessons.
  • Collaborative working will be encouraged (study buddies).
  • Dyslexic pupils will be given clear and singular instruction and repeated instructions.
  • Dyslexic pupils will not be required to multi-task.
  • All lessons will be logical in nature and regularly linked to previous learning points.
  • Visual aids, colour and preferential seating arrangements will be utilised.
  • Additional time will be available to dyslexic pupils for task completion.
  • Feedback will be positive and constructive.
  • Plenary sessions will be held at the conclusion of lessons.



The Special Educational Needs and Disability Order came into operation in September 2005 and it:

 “increased the right of children to inclusion in mainstream schools”. 

As the numbers of children with particular special needs including Asperger’s, Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome and Dyslexia continue to rise we at St Brigid’s continue to reflect on the necessary steps to facilitate their inclusion at levels which are deemed appropriate by the child, parents, teaching staff and other agencies.


In St Brigid’s arrangements are also made for pupils with physical and/or other disabilities to ensure they are treated favourably in line with the SENDO Act.  Each pupil will have their individual needs identified and advice and support will be sought from appropriate external agencies. 


Consequently, St Brigid’s will cater for all children while:

  1. The placement is appropriate.
  2. The budget and staffing level within the school can effectively manage the individual child’s needs and provide the best education for that child.
  3. The physical environment of the school is the most suitable for the child’s needs during his/her primary education.


9   Gifted and Talented Children

At St Brigid’s we are committed to the ethos of high expectation for all children.  We aim to provide quality learning experiences for our more able pupils which encourage them to develop as confident, independent thinkers and learners.  The main provider of opportunities for able children will be the class teacher through differentiation of task or outcome.  Opportunities to challenge the more able pupil will also be provided through additional extension activities in a variety of curricular areas.


10   Recording Keeping

A Special Needs Register will be kept detailing, in year group order, those children who have special educational needs and their stage of progression of the Code. The child’s name will also be entered / removed as necessary on the register.  The SENCO will maintain a file on each child registered on the Code of Practice which will have:

  • all their IEPs from stage 2
  • standardised test scores
  • psychologist reports
  • assistant psychologist reports
  • support plans from outreach eg reading centre, traveller support, down syndrome association
  • speech therapy reports
  • occupational therapy reports
  • completed stage 3 referral forms
  • completed stage 4 referral forms
  • annual reviews
  • transfer reviews

11 Monitoring and Evaluation

  • SENCO monitors IEPs to ensure that the targets are SMART targets and appropriate strategies to meet these targets have been drawn up.
  • The SENCO will monitor samples of work from child as evidence of targets being met.
  • Children at stage 1 of the COP will be monitored closely.  Teachers will make fortnightly observations of each child at stage One.
  • Evaluation of CATS and GL data to identify pupils for additional support programme in numeracy and literacy.
  • Termly meetings with Key stage 2 LSC teacher, Foundation Stage & Key Stage One ASD teacher, Literacy Support teacher and Nurture centre teacher.
  • Termly team meetings with all staff concerned to discuss the children’s progress and targets to be set.

12 Parental Involvement

“The relationship between the parents of a child with special educational needs and their child’s school has a crucial bearing on the child’s educational progress and the effectiveness of any school based action”.   

                                                                                               Par 2:21 Code of Practice Sept 1998


In St Brigid’s parents are welcomed into school and encouraged to participate fully in their child’s education.  The SENCO will ensure parents are contacted for their views before a child is placed on the SEN register.  They will also be informed if their child is removed from the register. At all stages of the Code of Practice parents will also be kept informed and encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s learning.

Parents will have the opportunity to speak with teachers at parent interviews regarding their child’s progress and may be invited to additional interviews to discuss specific SEN issues.  The parents can also request meetings with SENCO.  The parents of statemented children are invited to their child’s annual review once a year.  In effect St Brigid’s pursues the creation of a ‘partnership with parents’ for all of its pupils including children receiving S.E.N. help.


13 Complaints Procedure

At St Brigid’s we attempt to ensure that complaints do not arise by continually striving to ensure that communication lines between home and school are clear and well maintained and that all parental views are listened to and responded to appropriately.  However, if complaints do arise they are dealt with as follows:


  • All complaints from parents or guardians with regard to the curriculum or any other matter should be made in the first instance to the Principal.
  • If the matter is not resolved within five days then the complaint should be made in writing and sent to the Principal.
  • If the matter is still unresolved within a further five days then the complaint should be made in writing and sent by recorded delivery to the Chairperson of the Board of Governors:  Mrs Angela Large at St Brigid’s.


 14 Staff Development

In order for all children at St Brigid’s to receive a broad and balanced curriculum suitable for the child’s ability level the staff must be trained and regularly informed of the current issues and philosophies in Special Education.

Staff will access training from CASS, outside agencies and in-school support to increase confidence and skills in this area.  Inset training will be given priority according to the needs identified in the School Development Plan.  Information that is received by the SENCO through outside agencies and / or by training courses will also be communicated to the whole staff on a regular basis.


15 Links with other agencies

Paragraph 2:30 of the Code of Practice states that “effective action on behalf of children with special educational needs will often depend upon close co-operation between education and health and social services, who have statutory duties to help each other”.

Our aim at St Brigid’s is to give all our pupils access to a broad and balanced curriculum.  For pupils with special educational needs, that require specialist help there are extensive links with external agencies to ensure that the pupils get the most appropriate form of help.

The school maintains links with the following Educational based agencies:

  • Educational Psychologist - currently Bairbre Ni Churrain
  • Visual Impaired teacher - Mrs A Donaghy
  • Reading Centre Staff - Mrs M Hicks and Mrs M Cruickshank
  • WELB Behaviour Advisory team – Mrs C Meehan
  • Little Oaks behaviour unit/outreach service – Mrs J Peace
  • Woodlands Language unit/outreach service – Ms I Mallon
  • WELB special needs department - Mrs C Mc Dermott
  • Travellers Support/Liaison teacher – Miss C McReynolds
  • Autistic Advisory Service – Mrs B Walters
  • Language and Communication Service – Mrs J House


Most of the educational based specialist help is in an advisory capacity and is accessed through referral by the educational psychologist. The educational psychologist visits the school to assess stage 3 - 5 children during the year.  The number of assessments are provided on a time allocation basis by the Educational Psychology Service.  Most of the educationally based outreach support is facilitated by weekly sessions or fortnightly sessions in the case of the Reading Centre, in/out of school over three school terms, although some can be in an advisory capacity.


16 Review and Evaluation

All children on the SEN register will be reviewed in accordance with the period indicated on the educational plan.

In the mainstream classes an evaluation of pupil’s progress through their education plans will be undertaken at the end of each term. 

In the Foundation Stage & Key Stage One ASD Class and the Key Stage Two Learning Support Class an evaluation of pupil’s progress through their education plans with be undertaken bi-annually – mid way through the year and at the end of the year.

Following evaluation of IEPs, new IEPs will be drawn up in a termly basis.  Evaluated plans will be forwarded to the SENCO.

The SENCO will implement annual review procedures for children with Statements of Educational Need, in accordance with guidance issued by the Western Education and Library Board.


17a Role Of the Special Needs Co-ordinator

To co-ordinate Special Needs throughout the school.  This will be carried out by:

  • Supporting the Principal with the implementation of the Special Needs Policy
  • Co-ordinating provision for children with SEN
  • The day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy
  • Liaising with and advising fellow teachers
  • Maintaining the school’s SEN register and overseeing the records on all pupils with SEN
  • Liaising with parents of children with SEN
  • Liaising with external agencies including the educational psychology service and other support agencies, medical, social services and voluntary bodies.
  • Attending appropriate in-service and disseminating to staff
  • Keeping up-to-date with knowledge in this field and disseminating to staff relevant information to staff.


B Role of the Class Teacher

  • initial concern is expressed to or by class teacher.
  • has overall responsibility.
  • informs SENCO, principal and consults parents.
  • collects and records information and makes initial assessment of child’s needs;
  • provides special help within own class through differentiation, alternative teaching and learning strategies, or different classroom organisation.
  • draws up an IEP with appropriate targets and strategies.
  • monitors and reviews progress.
  • conducts reviews at Stage 2.
  • consults with SENCO when appropriate.
  • consults with parents.
  • works with Learning Support staff in drawing up an education plan and implement it in the classroom.

c Role of the Principal and the SLT

  • determines (in consultation with the Board of Governors) the school’s general policy and approaches.
  • establishes appropriate staffing and funding arrangements.
  • maintains general oversight of school’s work.
  • has responsibility for day-to-day management of SEN provision.
  • works closely with SENCO.     
  • keeps Board of Governors informed must ensure the effectiveness and confidentiality of arrangements made for records, especially medical or welfare information.
  • gathers further information required from health and welfare organisations.
  • acts as liaison with Health and Social Services.
  • responsible for transfer of all such information between schools.
  • requests statutory assessment.


18 Implementation and Review of Policy

Responsibility for the implementation of the SEN policy rests with the SENCO, Mrs Julie McGowan, class teachers and the Principal.  All staff have a professional and moral responsibility to deliver this Special Needs Policy.

The next formal review of this policy will take place in January 2016.  The SENCO is responsible for this review in consultation with the Principal and the staff.