Special Educational Needs

The SEN Department aims to provide an effective and comprehensive support service that will enable students with special educational needs to access the curriculum and achieve their full potential. There is a dedicated team of qualified SE teachers and special needs assistants who have built up a wealth of experience and expertise in the delivery of special education.

The Role of the SEN Department:

The SEN team provides assistance to these pupils, through early identification, specialist tuition and close liaison with Year Heads, parents, subject teachers and outside professionals.

The SEN Team consists of:

Clare Kenny (SENCO), Brenda Breen, Sharon O’Brien, Martin McGettrick, Claire Byrne, Andrea Gorman, Karen Watson, Mary McCarthy (SNA), Rosarii Murphy (SNA) and Maria McAuliffe (SNA).

Who may be eligible for supports?

Students supported by the SEN Department may include individuals who have one or more of the following:

·         Specific Learning Difficulty (e.g. Dyslexia)

·         Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder (Dyspraxia)

·         Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD /ADHD)

·         Autistic Spectrum Disorder

·         Speech and Language Difficulties

·         Mild General Learning Difficulties

·         Exceptionally able/High Achiever

·         Physical Difficulty

·         Students for whom English is not their native language

·         Students who are eligible for SNA support

This list is not exhaustive. 

Provision of supports

The Demonstration Project on In School and Early Years Therapy

Scoil Dara has been chosen as one of 15 secondary schools in the Kildare/Dublin/Wicklow region to take part in the Demonstration Project developed by the DES, HSE and Children and Youth Affairs. The project's aim is to help every student to optimise their full potential by making available speech and language therapists and occupational therapists to work/collaborate with the teaching staff to support and engage with students by facilitating access to all aspects of the curriculum.

The project aims to explore and develop an effective cross collaboration between school staff and therapists with a view to achieving better educational outcomes for students and their families.

Allocation of Resources

With the introduction in September 2017 of the ‘New Model’ for the allocation of resource and learning support hours, the school has the autonomy and control in deciding how hours are allocated and to whom. Delivery of resources is based on identified need. 


Scoil Dara looks forward to introducing a new and more student focused programme of supports. The SEN team aim to support and include students with a diverse range of needs, who are for the most part integrated into mainstream, mixed ability classes.


Students may be withdrawn for extra tuition; supported in-class through team-teaching; small group support may be offered to develop literacy/numeracy skills, social skills, organisational skills and/or study skills.


The above interventions may be both long and/or short term depending on need.


Through close communication with parents, subject teachers, student support plans will be drawn up and implemented over an agreed period of time.

How are students identified?

All students complete an Entrance Assessment. These results, together with information obtained from parents/guardians, feeder primary schools and referrals from mainstream teachers can assist in identifying students with special educational needs.


Other screening or diagnostic tests may be carried out where appropriate. An educational psychological assessment or referral on to another outside professional may be recommended.


State Examinations


Reasonable Accommodations in Certificate Examinations (RACE) may be granted to students with special educational needs. There are strict eligibility criteria set down by the State Examinations Commission; the application process is the responsibility of the SENCO in the school. Each application is assessed on an individual basis. If deemed eligible applications are submitted on behalf of the student/parents/guardians.

Reasonable Accommodations can include:

1.     Use of a separate centre

2.    Use of word processor

3.    Use of tape recorder or scribe

4.    A spelling/grammar/ punctuation waiver in language subjects

5.    Provision of a reader/reading assistant/scanning pen

To prepare students for reasonable accommodation in state examinations, the SEN Department may offer students in their care the opportunity to practise their accommodation in some subjects in school examinations.




The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a college / university admission scheme (CAO), which offers places in college at reduced points to students with disabilities. The scheme recognises that these students have had to overcome more obstacles than most in order to get to 3rd level.

Sixth year students with disabilities may apply for DARE.


The SENCO and the Guidance Department assists them in this application process. Updated assessments may be necessary in order to be eligible. Further information and guidelines regarding the application process is available on the DARE web-site.


Outside Agencies


The SEN Department have a long established working relationship with NEPS (National Psychological Service). The school have a designated NEPS psychologist.

The NCSE (National Council for Special Education) provide support to the school, applications are made annually for those students who require SNA support.

The SEN Department liaise with a number of other agencies and professionals on an on-going basis.


In Conclusion


The SEN Department in Scoil Dara strive to provide an effective programme of supports which will enhance and promote a meaningful and inclusive experience for students with special educational needs in all aspects of school life.


We endeavour to work with parents, in tandem with subject teachers to enable and encourage students to fulfil their dreams and aspirations.


Useful Websites


State Examinations (www.examinations.ie)

DARE (accesscollege.ie/dare/)

National Council for Special Education (www.ncse.ie)

National Educational Psychological Service (www.neps.ie)

Dyslexia Association of Ireland (www.dyslexia.ie)

The Asperger’s Syndrome Association: Aspire (www.aspireireland.ie)

Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (www.aoti.ie)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Support Association: HADD (www.hadd.ie)

Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (www.iaslt.ie)

Independent Speech and Language Therapists of Ireland (www.isti.ie)

Irish Association for Gifted Children (http://homepage.tinet.ie)

Irish Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI) (www.dcu.ie/ctyi/