The National Council for Special Education:
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is a statutory body with particular functions in relation to special needs education. Its main functions are:
- Planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs (in conjunction with schools and the Health Service Executive (HSE)
- Planning the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Needs Act – see above
- Disseminating information on best practice concerning the education of children with special educational needs
- Providing information to parents in relation to the entitlements of children with special educational needs
- Assessing and reviewing resources required by children with special educational needs
- Ensuring that progress of students with special educational needs is monitored and reviewed
- Reviewing education provision for adults with disabilities
- Advising educational institutions on best practice
- Consulting with voluntary bodies
- Advising the Minister for Education and Skills on matters relating to special education
- Conducting research and publishing findings
A new Inclusion Support Service has been set-up as part of the NCSE. The Inclusion Support service will include the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS)and the Visiting Teacher Service (VTS). The Service is to provide a more integrated service to children and their families as well as to teachers and schools.
Special Educational Needs Organizers:
The NCSE employs over 80 Special Educational Needs Organizers (SENOs) who are responsible for allocating additional teaching and other resources to support the special educational needs of children with disabilities at local level.
SENOs are the point of contact for parents/guardians and schools. Their main activities are:
- Processing applications from all schools for resource teacher support in respect of children with low-incidence disabilities such as moderate general learning disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, physical disabilities or autism, and deciding on the level of support appropriate to the school
- Processing applications from second-level schools for resource teacher support in respect of children with high-incidence disabilities such as mild general learning disability and deciding on the level of support appropriate to the school
- Processing applications from schools and deciding on the appropriate level of special needs assistant support for children with disabilities
- Examining applications from all schools for special equipment/assistive technology (decisions on this are made by the Department of Education and Skills)
- Examining applications from schools for transport arrangements for children with disabilities and making recommendations to the Department of Education and Skills
- Identifying the appropriate educational setting for individual children with special educational needs
SENOs also provide advice and support for parents of children with special educational needs. You can find the contact details for SENOs on the NCSE website.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment:
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is a statutory body. One of its functions is to advise the Minister for Education and Skills on the curriculum and syllabus requirements of students with disabilities or with special educational needs. The Council has published Guidelines for Teachers of Students with General Learning Disabilities.
The NCCA has also produced draft guidelines for teachers of exceptionally able students.
The Special Education Support Service (SESS):
The Special Education Support Service (SESS) was established to manage, co-ordinate and develop a range of supports in response to the identified training needs of teachers. The SESS, which is hosted in Cork Education Centre, provides a nationwide service to teachers and special needs assistants.
The aim of the service is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning with particular reference to the education of children with special needs.
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS):
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is an executive agency of the Department of Education and Skills. NEPS provides psychological services to primary and post-primary schools, both state and private.
NEPS processes applications for ‘reasonable accommodation’ in the State examination arrangements for children with disabilities.