The Department’s post-primary guidelines on inclusion outlines the role of the school principal in supporting students with special educational needs. It states that ‘Under current legislation the principal of the school has overall responsibility for ensuring that the special educational needs of students are met. As a consequence, the principal has the general responsibility for establishing and promoting whole-school policies and procedures that are supportive of the learning of all students, including those with special educational needs’ (Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs: Post-Primary Guidelines; DES, 2007, p 67).
The role of the school principal includes the following:
- Assume overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the school’s policies and procedures relating to the inclusion of students with special educational needs
- Oversee a whole-school approach to assessment and screening to identify needs and to guide the allocation of appropriate supports
- Ensure effective engagement with feeder primary schools to support the transition of students with special educational needs
- In collaboration with the in-school management team, discharge a key function in the deployment of staff, allocation of resources, organisation of students and timetabling
- Ensure that systems are in place for effective sharing of relevant information on students’ needs with all subject teachers
- Facilitate the continuing professional development of all teachers in relation to the education of students with special educational needs, and ensure that all school staff (subject teachers and special education teachers, guidance counsellors, special needs assistants) are clear regarding their roles and responsibilities in this area
- Ensure that whole-school procedures are established to facilitate the effective involvement of parents, students and external professionals/agencies
In implementing the resource allocation model, principals should give careful consideration to the formation of a special education needs team whose members have expertise and interest in special education so that provision can be co-ordinated efficiently and flexibly to meet a range of needs. Subject to his/her overall statutory responsibilities, the principal may delegate the performance of specific responsibilities to other staff members, including members of the special education needs team.