This policy is set out in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act, 1998. The Board of Management trusts that by so doing, parents will be assisted in relation to enrolment matters and procedures for the Specific Speech and Language Disorder Class in St Patrick’s BNS. Furthermore, the Board of Management and the Principal will be happy to clarify any further matters arising from the policy.
Specific Speech and Language Disorder
Specific Speech and Language Impairment (SSLI), Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) are the labels used interchangeably in the literature/clinically to describe this client group. Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD) is the term used by the Department of Education and Skills (DES).
The Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT) defines this impairment as follows; “Specific Speech Language Impairment (SSLI) is a term currently used to describe children whose skill in understanding and/or expressing themselves through speech and language is significantly impaired. These difficulties occur in the context of normal cognitive abilities and are not primarily attributable to social, emotional, behavioural, educational, physical or sensory difficulties”. (IASLT 2007).
Any or all of the following areas of speech/language may be affected: language comprehension; learning and using the rules of grammar; pronunciation; learning, storing and retrieving words; conversation and describing skills. Children with SSLI often experience literacy difficulties i.e. problems learning to read, spell and write.
One option within the clinical care pathway for provision of a Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) service to children with SSLI is by means of enrolment within a specific class. These classes, termed SSLD (Specific Speech & Language Disorder) classes by the DES offer intensive speech & language therapy which is integrated with the child’s academic development
How the SSLD Classes are organised
For school aged children with SSLD in Ireland an arrangement exists between the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and Department of Health & Children DOHC)/Health Services Executive (HSE) to provide school-based SLT to children through attendance at an SSLD class.
- St. Patrick’s B.N.S. has two SSLD Classes, which cater for the needs of children with SSLD, from Junior Infants upwards.
- St. Patrick’s NS is a boys’ school however girls can attend the SSLD classes.
- The maximum enrolment in each class is in line with the Department regulations (i.e. 7 children per class) to allow for intensive educational and SLT programmes suited to the children’s needs.
- Each class is staffed by a full time teacher, and has designated time assigned to it by a speech and language therapist. Each class also has an allocation of a Special Needs Assistant (SNA).
- SLT is provided by arrangement with the DoHC/HSE and the therapy delivery is integrated with the educational provision. At the time of revising this policy each class is receiving 2.5 days of SLT provision per week.
- Eligible pupils may spend up to a maximum of two years in the SSLD class.
- Pupils follow the regular primary school curriculum to the level at which they can access it, but they do not study Irish. They receive intensive group and one to one speech and language therapy. The teacher and speech and language therapist work closely together to help promote each child’s speech, language and communication skills in a programme which is integrated into the educational setting.
- The pupils in the SSLD Class are integrated with their peers from mainstream classes for some subjects, during break times and for school activities such as concerts/ school tours.
Criteria for enrolment in the SSLD classes
Criteria 1: Department of Education and Skills Criteria
The DES has outlined the eligibility criteria for enrolment in an SSLD Class. These include exclusionary and discrepancy criteria in relation to language and IQ scores in children with SSLI.
The DES Circular 38/07 described the following criteria for pupils attending the SSLD Classes:
(i) Assessment by a psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence, which places non-verbal, or performance ability within the average range or above. (i.e. non-verbal IQ of 90, or above)
(ii) Assessment on a standardised test of speech/language development by a speech and language therapist which places performance in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development at two standard deviations or more below the mean or at a generally equivalent level
(iii) The pupils’ difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment, the hearing threshold for the speech related frequencies should be 40dB
(iv)Emotional or behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes.
Criteria 2: Local Criteria
The Common Advisory Admissions Committee (CAAC) under the direction of the Board of Management (BOM) of St. Patrick’s National School has the final decision in the enrolment of children in the SSLD Classes (subject to allowable appeals). Along with the DES criteria additional local criteria must be met by each applicant. The local criteria are:
· The child must live within the designated catchment area at the time of referral. This is Dublin North City & County Community Healthcare Organisation (Dublin North Central & North West Dublin areas).
· A child must be 4 years on/before the 1st of September in the year of their enrolment.
· A child must have attended a minimum of eight sessions of 1:1 speech and language therapy within 9 months [of the referral date (i.e. 1st March 2017)].
Criteria 3: Priority Rating Scale
- The Priority Rating Scale for SSLD Class Admissions is used during the Advisory Admissions Committee Meeting.
- This priority rating scale (PRS) was adapted from the New Brunswick Health and Community Services PRS and was developed in 1997. The Special Interest Group of SLTs in SSLI in
has adapted the New Brunswick PRS for application to SSLD class admissions procedure. The rating scale has three sections: impact of the presenting problem (academic, social, emotional), predicted outcome of intervention (e.g. history and success of previous intervention) and impact of service delay. Information from the reports received on each applicant is used in the completion of this rating scale. Each child is then given an overall priority rating that is high, medium or low. Ireland
- All children are then listed in order of their priority. Those children at the top of the priority list will be recommended for places in the class for the academic year commencing in September of that year.
- Where the number of children referred exceeds the number of places available, names are placed on a prioritised waiting list for that admission year. This list of both children offered SSLD class places and children on a prioritised waiting list will be ratified by the BOM and noted in the BOM minutes.
Criteria 4: Age and Geography
- Once children meet the DES and local eligibility criteria (outlined above), they are listed in order of priority of need using the Priority Rating Scale (detailed above).
- The Common Advisory Admissions Committee will then proceed to the enrolment stage. Children may be offered a place in Powerstown Educate Together NS (PETNS) or St. Patrick’s BNS depending on age- appropriate available places in St. Patrick’s SSLD classes and Powerstown ETNS Junior SSLD class.
- The Common Advisory Admissions Committee will endeavour, where possible, to offer the prioritised children an available place in the closest SSLD class to their home address. This is dependent on available places in the SSLD class.
Admissions to the SSLD Classes under spare capacity provision
The DES has outlined (in circular 0083/2007) a spare capacity provision for SSLD class admissions. This applies in instances where there is spare capacity in a SSLD class because of insufficient eligible children, the board of management (BOM) may offer a place to a maximum of two pupils who do not meet the eligibility criteria above but who could benefit from enrolment in the class for one year on a concessionary basis. Such placements must be supported by the recommendation of a speech and language therapist and/or psychologist. The question of the continued enrolment of these pupils for a second year can only be considered once all of the eligible pupils have been accommodated. The National Council for Special Education through the local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) will monitor such situations
The Board of Management (BOM) of St Patrick’s BNS has the final decision in the enrolment of children in the SSLD Classes.
Once a diagnosis of SSLI is established a child may be referred for SSLD class placement. Children are referred to the class by a Speech and Language Therapist and/or Psychologist. These professionals will recommend the SSLD Class if they feel it is appropriate to meet the child’s needs. Either the SLT or Psychologist must coordinate the referral.
In order for a child to be considered for a place in the classes, one original and six copies of each of the documents listed below are required. The referral should be sent to the SSLD Classes Applications Office, c/o St. Patrick’s
The closing date for referrals is 1st March each year (or whereby the 1st falls on a weekend/school closure day the closest Monday to the 1st of March).
Please note that all applications are considered by the Common Advisory Admissions Committee, which combines Dublin North City & County Community Healthcare, Dublin North Central & North West Dublin areas.
Children may be offered a place in Powerstown ETNS or St. Patrick’s N.S. (not both).
Completion of this application does not guarantee or constitute an offer of a place in any of the SSLD classes
Reports Required for Referral to SSLD Classes in St Patrick’s National School
- Parental consent form signed by the child’s parents/guardian.
- An up to date speech and language therapy report (within three months of referral) confirming a diagnosis of Specific Speech and Language Disorder. This report should include the following:
-A summary of case history information
-A history of the child’s involvement with Speech and Language Therapy Services to date, including the number of therapy sessions attended (a minimum of eight sessions of 1:1 speech and language therapy within 9 months [of the referral date (i.e. 1st March 2017)]. The focus of therapy sessions and outcomes of therapy should also be described.
-A description of the child’s current profile including standardized assessment results of receptive and expressive language development. Some up to date assessments (i.e. within the past 6 months should be included here). Standard scores, percentile ranks, confidence intervals, standard deviations and age equivalents should be included where possible.
-A description of the child’s phonological system where relevant. A short transcription is also helpful and a report of oro-motor examination where applicable.
-A summary of the impact of the child’s speech and/or language impairment on their educational progress and social/emotional development.
- A Social, Emotional and Behavioural Rating Scale to be completed by the child’s parents/guardians with the assistance of the SLT.
- An up to date psychology report (within 2 years of referral) which includes the results of a comprehensive assessment of intellectual ability, including index/factor scores and subtest results.
- A pre-school/school report which provides information on the impact of the child’s language disorder on his/her educational progress and social/emotional development. Recent educational attainments and assessment results should be included if available. Referral forms for primary school children are provided. Parents must complete the consent form on page 1 of this document. Then all staff involved with the child must fill out pages 2-8 and pages 10—11 of this form. Page 9 of this form must be completed by the resource or learning support teacher if the child is receiving additional support at school. Referral forms are also provided for pre-school teachers. Social, Emotional and Behavioural Rating scales for teachers to complete are included in both preschool and primary school referral forms.
Following receipt of a referral, parents/guardians and the referral source will receive a letter from the SSLD Classes Applications Office. This will acknowledge that the referral has been received and give the Common Advisory Admissions Committee meeting date. It will also give an approximate date as to when the parents/referral sources will be informed of the committee’s decision.
The SSLD Classes Application Office collates the incoming referrals. Copies of the reports for each referral will be distributed to all members of the Common Advisory Admissions Committee as soon as possible after the closing date for referrals.
Common Advisory Admissions Committee (CAAC)
The Common Advisory Admissions Committee (CAAC) is a multi-agency group made up of a group of professionals working for either the DES or the HSE who decide which referrals are selected for places in the SSLD classes. The CAAC is comprised of the following: School Principals of Powerstown ETNS and St. Patrick’s N.S., SSLD class teachers, SSLD Class SLT, SLT manager (HSE), Principal Psychologist Manager (HSE) and NEPS Psychologist.
The CAAC discusses the clinical and educational needs of the applicants for SSLD Class placement based on the information provided in the reports outlined above. It prioritises the applicants for allocation to the available places in the SSLD Class.
Common Advisory Admissions Committee Meeting.
This meeting usually takes place in April each year. This is the meeting at which the CAAC makes recommendations on the allocation of places in the SSLD classes. This will include discussion regarding which current pupils will stay in the class for a further year, and which pupils will return to their local primary schools.
The number of new places becoming available each year will vary depending on the number of children discharged from the class. The maximum number of places available at any one time is in line with DES regulations.
Initially the CAAC check that each child meets the DES and local criteria outlined above. The Common Advisory Admissions Committee then applies the Priority Rating Scale, which considers a number of criteria (as detailed above), for each child who meets the DES and local criteria.
- All children are then listed in order of their priority.
- Those children at the top of the priority list will be recommended for places in the class for the academic year commencing in September of that year.
- Where the number of children referred exceeds the number of places available, names are placed on a prioritised waiting list for that admission year.
- This list of both children offered SSLD class places and children on a prioritised waiting list will be ratified by the BOM and noted in the BOM minutes.
- The CAAC will then proceed to the enrolment stage. Children may be offered a place in PETNS or St. Patrick’s depending on age-appropriate available places in St. Patrick’s SSLD Classes and PETNS Junior SSLD Class.
- The Advisory Selection committee will endeavour, where possible, to offer the child an available place in the closest SSLD class to their home address. This is dependent on available places in the SSLD class.
The recommendations of the AAC are conveyed in writing to all the parents and referral sources. This letter is signed by the School Principal on behalf of the BOM.
Pupils who are offered a place
In the letters to parents/guardians of children who are being offered a place in the SSLD Class, parents are asked to contact the SLT in the SSLD Class SLT by telephone within one week (5 working days) of receipt of the letter offering them a place to confirm that they are interested in the place.
These parents/guardians are invited to attend an information meeting in the school before confirming that they will accept this place.
- The parents/guardians and children meet with SSLD class teacher, SLT and school Principal at this meeting.
- Parents/guardians are asked to fill out the School Enrolment form at the end of the group meeting if they are happy to proceed with enrolment.
- Parents/guardians are asked to fill out School Transport form if they are happy to proceed with enrolment.
- All pupils are accepted on the understanding that they and their parents/guardians fully accept the school’s Code of Discipline, and all other school policies (e.g. Healthy Eating, Child Protection Policy, Homework Policy) currently in place or which may be drawn up from time to time by the school’s staff and/or Board of Management.
Where an offer of a place is declined, the next child on the prioritised waiting list will be offered a place.
Pupils who are not offered a place
In letters to parents/guardians of children who are not offered places, parents/guardians are advised that under Section 29 of the Education Act 1988, they are entitled to appeal the decision to the Secretary General of the DES. It also informs parents that forms for this purpose can be obtained from the DES, Friar’s Mill Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
Referrals are not carried forward from one year to the next and children who are unsuccessful in securing places in the SSLD classes must be referred again if they are to be considered for the following year.
All referral reports except originals will be shredded by SSLD Class SLT. Each child’s original referral documents will be stored in the child’s SLT file in the case of children who attend the SSLD class following AAC meeting. For children who are not offered a place and who are placed on the waiting list, the original referral documents will be stored in a secure filing cabinet in SSLD SLT’s clinic room.
Inclusion of pupils with SSLD
All the children in the SSLD Classes are integrated with other pupils during playtime, during school trips and outings. The Senior SSLD Class pupils integrate with mainstream classes for SESE subjects on a daily basis (e.g. history, geography). In as far as possible the child’s individual and group speech and language therapy sessions are timetabled so as not to clash with the timetable for pupils integrating with their peers for SESE subjects but this is not always possible.
Pupils in the Junior SSLD Class integrate with their peers towards the end of the school year.
Pupils in the SSLD Class will be part of the normal day to day experiences, determined by the reality of school life, and the existing customs and practices. Every child in the school is bound by school policies, both those in existence and those developed from time to time by the staff and/or Board of Management. The school cannot offer any additional tuition, support and supervision beyond that which if offered to any other pupil in the school, at times other than when the school is in operation during the normal school year.
Pupils in the SSLD Classes will be no different to those in other classes in terms of not having any separate or additional provisions put into place from other classes in the event of staff illness, absences or whole school events such as school visits, parish liturgy etc.
From year to year, the allocation of teachers to classes is focused on the needs of the whole school, and consequently the school cannot guarantee long term continuity or predictability with regard to teaching staff.
It is a key requirement of the school that parents/guardians must commit to attend meetings with the SSLD class teacher and SLT as required during the school year. Parents are also required to attend at least 2 SLT sessions per month so as to help their child progress.
Communication between teacher/SLT and parents is encouraged from the outset and where any classroom issues arise they are dealt with jointly (by parents and SSLD Class staff).
Parents/guardians are required to be involved with setting speech and language goals and implementing speech and language therapy programmes in the home while their child is attending the class. This home support is of great value to the child and also to parents.
Parental support is essential to ensure that a child benefits fully from his / her limited time in the class.
Placement in the SSLD Class is for a maximum of two years.
The pupil’s progress will be monitored throughout each year, and the SSLD Class Teacher and the SLT will give feedback to parents/guardians at regular individual meetings.
The SSLD Class staff, in consultation with parents/guardians, may carry out a review regarding suitability of placement, during the school year if necessary. Parental engagement with SLT and teacher during the course of the year will be among the factors taken into consideration as part of any review.
Where difficulties arise, it may be necessary for the school staff to meet regarding the child’s placement. When a child is required to leave the SSLD Class during the academic year, this is communicated in writing to the relevant parties by the school Principal.
Where a placement is terminated, the place is then offered to the next child on the prioritised waiting list.
Discharge from the SSLD Class
A child may be discharged from the SSLD Class when any or some of the following apply:
- The child has come to the end of the two year period of attendance
- The child has reached the upper class age limit for attendance in the SSLD Class
- The SSLD Class staff considers the pupil able to return to mainstream education
- The Admissions Advisory Committee no longer considers the SSLD Class as the most suitable placement for the child’s educational development
- The parents/guardian of the child request transfer from the SSLD Class
Prior to discharge from the SSLD Class speech and language and academic assessments will be carried out and reports forwarded to the relevant parties. The SSLD Class staff will give feedback on the assessment results and recommendations to parents/guardians on the pupil’s discharge.
Transition to Mainstream/Other Educational Placement
Towards the end of their time in the SSLD Class pupils will have comprehensive Speech and Language and Psychological reassessments carried out with them. Reports on these assessments will include recommendations for any supports they may need on their return to mainstream or other educational placements. The parents/guardians are encouraged to visit the school to which their child is transferring to ensure there will be appropriate support provided there for their child.
SSLD Class teacher and SLT liaise with staff and other professionals involved in child’s next educational placement prior to the child’s transition there. Children are encouraged to visit their next school placement prior to transferring there full time.
Teacher/Principal from child’s next school placement are encouraged to visit the child in the SSLD Class setting to get a sense of how the class operates and how the child functions with the SSLD class setting.
SLT in SSLD Class will visit pupil in their new school one to two months after the child has started there to allow time for the child to settle there. At this time, SLT provides advice and school programmes to teaching and support staff if appropriate.
In general, a child who is eligible for placement in a SSLD class is on the basis of DES criteria or spare capacity provision also eligible for free transport to the SSLD class assigned by the CAAC, subject to the terms of the School Transport Scheme.
The Schools Transport Service facilitates the children attending this class in the same manner as children attending other Special Classes/Schools.
It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that a child is ready for collection at the agreed time in the morning and that there is someone to receive the child on return home in the evening.
Amendments to the policy:
St. Patrick’s BNS reserves the right to amend the policy. Any such amendments would be brought to the attention of parents. This Enrolment Policy will come into effect from 1st January 2017.