The Department has set out the Continuum of Support framework to assist schools in identifying and responding to students’ needs. This framework recognises that special educational needs occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe, and from transient to long term, and that students require different levels of support depending on their identified educational needs. Using this framework helps to ensure that interventions are incremental, moving from class-based interventions to more intensive and individualised support, and that they are informed by careful monitoring of progress.
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The Continuum of Support is a problem-solving model of assessment and intervention that enables schools to gather and analyse data, as well as to plan and review the progress of individual students.
Using the Continuum of Support framework, schools can identify students’ educational needs, to include academic, social and emotional needs, as well as needs associated with physical, sensory, language and communication difficulties. The framework emphasises the importance of looking at a student’s needs in context, and provides useful resources to support this (for example, Learning Environment Checklist, Teacher Checklist for Whole-Class Structures and Supports).
Many students will have their special educational needs identified prior to their transfer to post-primary school. It is important for schools to gather information on students’ learning from primary schools and parents in order to plan provision and to ensure continuity and progression in the students’ education.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has developed a suite of materials to support the reporting and transfer of pupil information from primary to post primary schools.
- 6th Class Report Card
- My Profile sheet for children
- My Child’s Profile sheet for parent(s)
- A Special Educational Needs Summary Form is included to support the sharing of information for children with identified learning needs
Since the 2014/15 school year, schools are required to use the Education Passport materials detailed above and to forward them to the relevant post-primary school, following confirmation of enrolment, ideally by the end of June (Circular 45/2014).
For more information on Transition from Primary to Post-Primary.
For students with a high level of need, transition meetings may be arranged between primary and post-primary schools in advance of transfer. The Post-Primary Transfer Review Form provides a useful template for collating assessment data relating to students’ academic, attainment and personal development needs in order to inform intervention planning following transition.
A post-primary school may use its own assessment practices to provide further screening and diagnostic information to support the planning process for students with special educational needs. The following resources may be used to inform assessment and identification of need:
The Continuum of Support provides a framework for schools to enable them to identify and respond to students’ needs in a flexible way. This process is also supported through engagement with external professionals, as required. The following levels of support are suggested.
Table 1 (download here) outlines how a school can collect evidence about students’ educational needs at each level of the Continuum of Support. This evidence can then be used to adapt teaching, to plan the next steps in students’ learning and to gauge their responses to intervention. When data and information are carefully collected, shared and compared, schools can identify and respond to those students who have special educational needs.