Special Education Teaching

The Special Education Team (SET) of St Francis NS report to our Deputy Principal, Mrs O’Rourke,

and comprise of 4 Special Education Teachers and 4 Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s)


Special education teachers should be familiar with a wide range of teaching approaches, methodologies and resources to cater for particular learning styles and to meet a variety of needs. Teaching approaches will include a combination of team-teaching initiatives, co- operative teaching, early intervention and small group or individual support. Depending on the learning needs identified, a pupil with special educational needs may be supported at classroom level, or through mainstream classroom placement with additional teaching delivered through in-class or withdrawal support models.

Some pupils with more complex and enduring needs may require specific methodologies, teaching approaches and/or learning activities. Such interventions should be based on careful identification of strengths and needs, including multi-disciplinary assessment, when necessary.

Special education teachers, in consultation with class teachers, should plan their interventions carefully to address pupils’ priority learning needs and to achieve the targets identified in the relevant Continuum of Support plan. Short-term planning should reflect the Support Plan targets and should break down the development of skills and content into small incremental steps to address each pupil’s specific needs on a weekly basis. Outcomes for pupils should be routinely assessed, recorded and used to review progress. These outcomes should also be used to inform the targets for the next phase of intervention.

Our Special Education Teachers are:

Ciara Whately: mrswhately@stfrancisns.ie
Helen Clinton: mrsclinton@stfrancisns.ie
Sarah Gray: missgray@stfrancisns.ie
Louise Dillon: missdillon@stfrancisns.ie

Role of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) in Primary Schools

Special needs assistants (SNAs) play an important role in assisting the teacher to support pupils with special educational needs who have significant care needs. They are allocated to the school and work under the direction of the principal/teachers.  The SNA usually supports a number of pupils with care needs in the school.  Most pupils with special educational needs do not have significant care needs and therefore will not need access to a special needs assistant while at school.

Which pupils can access SNA support?  Pupils who may be approved access to SNA support are those who have significant care needs arising from a disability or medical condition and whose professional reports indicate that the pupil’s care needs are so significant that they will need adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to take part in education. These are pupils who require more care support than can be given by the class teacher or by other staff or pupils in the school or by using assistive technology or by adapting the school building.

For more information on the role of the SNA please see Special Needs Assistant (SNA) SchemeInformation for Parents/Guardians of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs

Our Special Needs Assistants are:

Suzanne O’Hare suzanne@stfrancisns.ie
Sarah O’Graidaigh: sarah@stfrancisns.ie
Lisa Young: lisa@stfrancisns.ie
Carmel Pinto: carmel@stfrancisns.ie

September 2020

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your support, patience and cooperation over the last six months and we’d like to welcome everyone back to school. We are delighted to be back.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of the SET team with any queries you may have.

Stay safe and look after each other,

SET team.

April 2020

We hope you all had a lovely Easter and that the Easter Bunny came with plenty of goodies. We hope you are keeping safe and well.

Welcome back to Ms. Reynolds from her maternity leave and huge congratulations on her wedding! We are delighted to have her back as part of our SET team again : )

We hope to see you all soon and miss everyone very much. Please find some links below that you may find useful in relation to anxiety in children about Covid -19. Please do not hesitate to contact any the SET team with any queries you may have.

Stay safe and look after each other,

SET team.




At Home with Weaving Well-Being

March 2020

Below are the links to some content from NCSE which may be of use to parents and guardians during our school closure. These are practical activities which can be used at home with your child.

The Department of Education and Skills NEPS psychologists have developed advice for young people to manage and stay well when schools are closed. This can be viewed in the downloads section.

We hope that you are all keeping safe and well and look forward to seeing you when normal school hours resume.


Combined Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists tips for parents:

Junior and Senior Infants:



1st and 2nd class



3rd and 4th class



5th and 6th class



Booklet for parents of pupils with Sensory Processing Difficulties:



Booklets for parents of pupils with motor skills difficulties:




Levelled Reading supports:
Pupils with Dyslexia :
SNIP Programme:
http://www.ronitbird.com/resources/ (Brilliant games and videos to support numeracy at home)
An abundance of fantastic support for pupils with ASD:
(These materials are a sampling of lessons from Stages Learning Materials’ Language Builder ARIS curriculum).
Some useful Apps that can be downloaded on phone/tablet as many parents may not have access to a laptop:
https://www.myplayhomeapp.com/  (imaginative play)
https://www.letterschool.org/ (Early Literacy & NUmeracy)
All of the above are free Apps/ Apps with a free trial due to Covid-19.
Please find below a mindfulness challenge PDF template and a PDF of further Dyslexia resources.
Stay safe & look after each other,
SET Team.
Sept 2018

St Francis National School has a strong tradition of supporting students with special educational needs.

Together with all staff, the Special Education Teaching (SET) team endeavour to support children with Special Education Needs (SEN) to reach their full potential academically, socially and personally within an inclusive school environment. In keeping with the ethos in our school we aim to provide an inclusive education for all pupils.

Please go to the Policy section of our website for our SEN Policy which gives full details on all aspects of our SEN provision in our school.

How is teaching support delivered?

Specialised instruction and differentiated teaching methods are used by teachers to support student learning. Special focus is given to the areas of Literacy, Numeracy, I.T. and Social Skills.

This targeted, individualised teaching support and intervention is offered in a number of ways:

• Withdrawal to small group Learning Support Classes.
• Withdrawal to a One-to-One Class setting in consultation with student and parent/guardian.
• Team-teaching support is an ‘in-class’ support for students where the teacher supports them within the mainstream setting.

At St Francis National School we use a variety of programmes to support pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN). These programmes include:

    • Reading Recovery: please see Reading Recovery page for further details.
    • Social Skills programme
    • Touch Typing
    • SMART Moves: promotes physical skills development, provides a range of activities that can be integrated with ease into both the classroom and home life to help improve co-ordination and concentration levels in children with learning difficulties, in particular Dyspraxia/DCD and sensory issues.
    • Regulation Stations (The Braincalm Program). The Brain Calm Program activities work to help smooth out ’ traffic jams’ in the brain and help to smooth the ‘bridge’ between the left and right sides of the brain.
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