St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment is the only National School in the Republic of Ireland designated by the Department of Education and Skills for children who are blind or have a significant visual impairment (VI). All children who attend have a confirmed medical diagnosis of a visual impairment which is their primary barrier to educational progress. Some of our pupils also have additional disabilities. The ethos of our school is Catholic but we welcome children from families of any faith, or none. The Patron of the school is the Archbishop of Dublin and the trustees are The Rosminians (Institute of Charity).
Many children who are blind or visually impaired are now educated very successfully at local primary or special schools throughout the country, supported by the Visiting Teacher Service for VI. Other children benefit, however, from our specialised school environment with smaller classes and additional curriculum opportunities tailored specifically to the learning needs of children with visual impairment. Additional curriculum includes touch typing and computer skills, individual and group music lessons, orientation and mobility, pottery and swimming, and is provided by teachers funded by the City of Dublin Education & Training Board. The CDETB also funds a part-time Music Therapist. At present, all our pupils are day pupils, travelling to and from school by bus from all parts of Dublin and surrounding counties.
The school is located beside ChildVision on Gracepark Road in Drumcondra and we work closely with a range of staff there. Through ChildVision, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy, nursing support, eye and low-vision clinics and additional orientation and mobility training are provided, all of which is of great benefit to the pupils who attend St. Joseph’s Primary School. Some children have availed of residential services while other facilities at ChildVision are enjoyed by all, including the sensory garden, pet farm, library, swimming pool, PE Hall, Soft Play and Multi-Sensory Room.
Some of our pupils transition to the nearby Rosmini Community School for their secondary education. Rosmini Community School has the approval of the Department of Education and Skills to operate a special class(es) for students with a visual impairment. Students who avail of the special class facility do so in order to access the mainstream curriculum with the additional supports available at Rosmini Community School. A case conference of relevant professionals will take place in the case of each student in order to determine the student’s needs and the most appropriate placement for that student. There is no longer an MDVI class at Rosmini Community School for students who are visually impaired and have multiple disabilities.
Those who do not transfer to Rosmini Community School are supported in mainstream schools or other special schools by the Visiting Teacher Service for VI.