On 20th March, 2017 three support services;
- Special Education Support Service (SESS)
- National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS)
- Visiting Teacher Service for Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Children who are Blind/Visually Impaired (VTHVI)
transferred from the Department of Education and Skills (DES) to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and joined with the services already being provided by NCSE’s SENOs and administrative staff to form a new NCSE Support Service. This new service aims to develop schools’ capacity to include students with special educational needs and to promote a continuum of educational provision which is inclusive and responsive.
From March 2017, the NCSE has responsibility for
- providing Continual Professional Development (CPD) and support for teachers in the area of special educational needs (SEN) to enhance the quality of learning and teaching in relation to SEN provision (formerly provided through the SESS - see below)
- providing support and expertise to partner schools on issues related to behaviour (formerly provided through the NBSS)
- supporting the introduction of the new model of resource teaching allocation to schools and to develop capacity to meet the needs of students with SEN
Previously, the role of the Special Education Support Service (SESS) was to enhance the quality of learning and teaching in relation to special educational provision. The service co-ordinated, developed and delivered a range of professional development initiatives and support structures for school personnel working with students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, special schools and special classes.
The aim of the service was to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, with particular reference to special educational provision. In this regard, the SESS aimed to provide a quality service that was inclusive, promoted collaboration and co-operation and provided for equality of access. In order to further articulate these aims and approach, the SESS adopted the following Mission Statement:
‘Through our work in supporting school personnel, we promote the acceptance of the individuality, potential and worth of every pupil with special educational needs. As a service that acknowledges and values difference, we work with schools to secure these principles and to provide high quality continuing professional development and support structures for teachers.
We are committed to combining a flexible and person-centred approach to the development of teachers’ knowledge and skills with theoretical and practical perspectives so that pupils with special educational needs are enabled to reach their full potential and be included in the whole life of the school.’