The Special Educational Needs Cross-Border Professional Exchange Programme was funded under Measure 5.5: ‘Education, Cross-Border School and Youth Cooperation’ of the European Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland (Peace II). The programme enabled teachers, educational psychologists and other professionals from the border counties of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to build on peace and stability by coming together and exchanging experiences and models of best practice. These participants formed three North-South cluster groups and based their joint programmes of work on the key areas of Autism, Dyslexia and Marginalised Youth, respectively. Monaghan Education Centre was the host border centre for the Exchange Programme. A Programme Manager provided overall co-ordination for the work and took responsibility for the smooth running of the programme and the recording and reporting of progress.
Through the project, close links were forged in the field of special education, North and South. The benefits to the whole of the island are many, as the clusters shared and learned from each other’s good practice and began to develop their expertise together. These links extended beyond the professional; they increased mutual understanding and respect and have led to the formation of positive and sustainable relationships.
The Departments of Education, north and south, co-sponsored the PEP application with the assistance of the Special Education Support Service (SESS), who agreed to host and facilitate the programme. A Management Committee, comprising representatives of both Departments, and the SESS had the overall responsibility for the overseeing and evaluation of the programme. A Steering Committee, established by the Management Committee, had an executive function in relation to the operational management and administration of the programme. Within a memorandum of understanding, the Steering committee members represented the two Departments, SESS, Monaghan Education Centre, the National Educational Psychology Service, ROI and the Principal Educations Psychologists, N. Ireland.
An initial conference took place in February 2005 to launch the programme. Guest keynote speakers from Pittsburgh, USA offered a template and exemplars of cluster working, including a live link up with Watson Institute Pittsburgh, and helped to set the scene and identify the outcomes for the work of the clusters over the programme period. The programme concluded with a second conference in Newry in May 2006. The closing conference reported on progress and published resources to assist the wider education system to learn from the project beyond the programme period.
These resources are the result of a truly collaborative effort and they reflect the wealth of knowledge and experience within the groups. It is hoped that they will be an invaluable tool to professionals throughout both education systems.
Three publications resulted from this Cross-Border Professional Exchange Programme:
1. Opening the Spectrum – Insights into Working with Pupils on the Autistic Spectrum
This publication is presented in a case-study format where the profile of a pupils are presented, the teacher’s response outlined and key learning points summarised. It contains six sections:
SECTION 1. Assisting Inclusion: from special settings
SECTION 2. Assisting Inclusion: from early years settings
SECTION 3. Assisting Inclusion: managing transitions
SECTION 4. Assisting Inclusion: dual enrolment
SECTION 5. Assisting Inclusion: the widerschool community
SECTION 6. Assisting Inclusion: teaching tips
Opening the Spectrum – Insights into Working with Pupils on the Autistic Spectrum (PDF - 5 MB).
2. Inclusive Dyslexia-Friendly Practice
This is designed for use with pupils who have dyslexia as well as for teachers and parents who work in this area. This resource pack represents the accumulated work of the programme participants who came together to investigate, share and promote best practice for pupils who have dyslexia. It has four sections:
SECTION 1. Striving to achieve Dyslexia-FriendlyPractice: Two Approaches
SECTION 2. Children with Dyslexia:Feelings, Thoughts and Behaviours
SECTION 3. Improving School and Classroom Practice
Inclusive Dyslexia-Friendly Practice [PDF - 3.7 MB]
3. Talking and Listening Through Case-Based Learning for School Communities
Case-Based Learning is a strategy which uses stories of real-life events as a vehicle for discussion and creative thinking around issues relevant to school communities. The group chose Case-Based Learning as an approach to their work because they felt that it was particularly suitable for their purposes.
SECTION 1. Case-Based Learning is…
SECTION 2. A Case is…
SECTION 3. Ready, Steady…
SECTION 4. Go…
SECTION 5. Worked Examples of Case-Based Learning
SECTION 6. Partially Worked Examples of Case-Based Learning
SECTION 7. Case-Based Learning: a great way to engage young people and parents
SECTION 8. Trying Case-Based Learning
SECTION 9. Writing and Using Your Own Cases
SECTION 10. Case-Based Learning: a personal reflection
Talking and Listening Through Case-Based Learning for School Communities [PDF - 1.9 MB]