When implementing the allocation model to address the needs of students with special educational needs, schools should adopt a whole-school approach to programme planning and to the implementation of early-intervention and prevention programmes. In order to achieve this, schools will need to adapt their existing special educational needs policies to guide the new approach to the allocation of resources. A whole-school approach involves collaborative action by the school community (in consultation with parents and students) to improve student learning, behaviour and well-being. It encompasses a process of reflection, planning and review of policies and practices, and includes an evaluation of how students with special educational needs are identified by the school, the interventions that are put in place and how the outcomes of those interventions are measured and monitored. A whole-school approach should address the full continuum of needs, ranging from milder and more transient needs to difficulties that are severe and enduring (for example, significant learning, sensory, physical, communication, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties).
Schools have been engaging in the school self-evaluation (SSE) process and are familiar with the six-stage evaluation process - School Self-Evaluation Guidelines 2016 – 2020 (DES, 2016).
In September 2016, the Inspectorate published Looking at Our School 2016 – A Quality Framework for Post-primary Schools (DES, 2016). When applied to a school’s provision for students with special educational needs, the domains and statements of practice enable teachers and school leaders to review their practices, to identify what they are doing well, and to recognise aspects of the school’s work that could be further developed to improve learning experiences and outcomes for these students.
Schools may find the following standards from the teaching and learning dimension of the quality framework particularly helpful in providing for students with special educational needs: Appendix 5: Looking at our school 2016 – A quality framework for post-primary schools
To assist schools in reflecting on their provision for students with special educational needs a Self-Reflective Questionnaire is provided in Appendix 6 of the 2017 Guidelines.