Special Education in Ireland’s Secondary Schools

This article is an introduction to special education in Irish secondary schools. The past then years have witnessed a sea change in special education provision in Ireland. The Department of Education and Science has issued numerous directives and guidelines in relation to policy, provision, structure and supports. Since 1998 there have been ten pieces of legislation passed through the Dail that relate, one way or another to children and special education needs The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has been established along with the Special Education Support Service (SESS). Both these organisations oversee and coordinate all special education initiatives nationwide. Ireland’s primary schools have pioneered these new directives. Special education provision at primary level is developing at a rapid pace and great strides are being made. The next horizon for improvement is secondary school.

Ireland’s secondary schools are driven by an exam-oriented curriculum. Subject area specialists teach all of the curricular content. The supports available to children with special needs are not extensive or as tested as those at primary level. In what follows we will look at the needs and entitlements of children entering secondary school who have identified special education needs and those who are entering and later discovered to have a special education need.

My child has been receiving extra help in primary school. What should I look for in a secondary school?

You should look for a school with a special education teacher in place on a full-time basis to support all children with special needs in the school. It is important to also be sure the school has a commitment to supporting and educating children with special needs. The school should have on its staff teachers who have had some training in how to differentiate their methodology and curriculum for children with special needs. There should be an accepting attitude on the part of all staff. Remember, your child is entitled to enter fully into the life of the school and avail of all it has to offer. How do you find out these things? Talk to the school principal and ask questions about the topics listed above. Remember, your child may be eligible for special consideration at the time of Junior Cert and Leaving Cert but this will have to be determined about a year before these exams will be taken.

What is s/he entitled to?

A child who has been receiving special education resources or support in primary school is eligible for continued support at secondary level so long as they continue to have a special education need. It is possible that a primary school child, after receiving several years of support, could no longer be deemed to have a special education need but this is the exception not the rule.

Your child will be entitled to the same general provision he or she received in primary school. Typically this takes the form of specialist teaching from a Learning Support or Special Education Resource teacher (both are now often being referred to simply as Special Education teachers. This support is to be determined based on need with the number of hours of support being determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up in the last year of primary school. In addition to the IEP there should have been a Transition Plan completed during the last year of primary school The Transition Plan will devise the structure of transition to secondary school and may alter the IEP for a short period of time. If this happens there should be a team meeting in about six months or less to write the secondary school IEP. In general students in secondary school are eligible for the same supports as in primary school. This may include a Special Needs Assistant (SNA).

How do I go about making sure they get that?

Generally speaking your child’s Individual Education Plan is the map which documents exactly what services your child will receive, when he or she will receive them and from whom. The IEP is your best protection against a child not receiving the services they need. IEP’s will eventually become legally binding documents on all parties and a school must provide the services outlined in the IEP. An IEP cannot be changed or implemented without your consent. Remember that upon entering secondary school a Transition Plan may be in place that slightly alters the previous IEP. This will have to be reviewed within a short span of time to be sure the child receives appropriate support services. Don’t be afraid to talk to the school principal because he or she is ultimately responsible to see to it that children receive the services they are entitled to receive.

What are my options if we run into difficulties?

Should problems arise you should first speak to the Year Head and address your concerns. The Special Needs Organiser (SENO) assigned to the school should be alerted as well as the appropriate special education teacher(s). A team meeting, of which you are entitled to be a member, can be convened within a reasonable time frame and your concerns will be discussed. If this meeting does not satisfy you or not result in the child receiving the services you may contact the National Council for Special Education for further information and support.

It is important to take things one step at a time. Speak to your child’s special education teacher first and be clear about your concerns. Be assertive and not aggressive. Remember, generally speaking everyone is doing the best they can. Do have your child’s IEP in front of you when you are speaking to the teacher or other staff member. Be aware of your rights to appeal as outlined in the NCSE and SESS websites. Don’t rush to judgement, try and work things out amicably before you make threats to appeal. The next most important port of call will be the Special Needs Organiser assigned to the school.

Hidden Disabilities

Not all children who have special education needs come to the attention of parents or educators in primary school. The human brain is an organ that tries to meet the demands placed upon it at any given time. As anyone who has gone to school knows, the demands of the curriculum get greater and greater each year of schooling. In secondary school the curriculum subjects become incredibly complex each year. The fact that a student is being educated by many different teachers each year further complicates matters. There are students who have had no difficulty suggestive of a special education need at primary school who suddenly seem to have a lot of difficulties in secondary school. Unfortunately they are often perceived as “lazy” or “unmotivated” and sometimes as “difficult” students.

If these labels stick and no thought or concern raised about a possible learning difficulty being present the student can become trapped in a cycle of failure and rejection by teachers. The result could be early school leaving, behaviour difficulties to hide the learning problem, lowered self-esteem, loss of self-confidence and trouble at home. It is important to recognise that some students, no matter how well they performed in primary school, may have a special education need that doesn’t appear until secondary school.

What are the warning signs?

It is not possible to list the many warning signs of a hidden disability but generally speaking one should be considered any time a student with a previously successfully record in primary school begins to exhibit difficulties in secondary school. There are a variety of causes to school failure at second level but a hidden disability can often be reasonably suspected when one or more of the following difficulties become noticeable:

oMemory problems

oOrganisational difficulties

oRefusal to go to school

oProblems with written language expression

oDifficulty organising thoughts into speech

oInability to recall facts from yesterday’s lesson even if they seemed retained the night before

oUnusual spelling problems

oUnusual difficulty with more advanced mathematical problems

oPronounced difficulty in foreign language class

oBehavioural difficulties not present in primary school

oMood swings or sudden mood changes that last several hours

oReluctance to engage with parents about school difficulties

Although a partial list it is a good guide for parents and teachers to thoughtfully consider the presence of a hidden learning disability.

I think my child may have a problem. Where do I go from here?

First speak with your child’s teachers. Ask for the facts: what does teacher think the problem might be? How often is this occurring? When? Is it serious? Present your own perception to the teacher(s) clearly and succinctly. If you have done some Internet homework on your own be clear about it and raise it as a query needing to be resolved. Try and get some samples from homework you have seen and ask for some samples of the child’s work in class if it is appropriate to do so. Speak to the Year Head and ask him or her to get some information about your concerns from all teachers. See if you can spot a pattern that validates your concern.

If you become more concerned then you have a right to ask for an assessment. Sometimes the special education teacher, with your permission, can perform some individually administered tests to discover if the child is seriously behind in reading or math achievement age. It is possible to discover if there are significant written language deficits in some cases. If this assessment leads to more significant concerns then you should request a psychological assessment. These can be provided free by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) but be mindful that a lengthy waiting list may be in place.

The most important thing is to be persistent and to talk to the right people. Begin with teachers, speak to Year Head, go to Principal if necessary and don’t forget the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO). If an assessment is carried out there will be a team meeting to discuss the results and to begin the process of writing an IEP.

In the case of a diagnosis, where do we go from here?

If your child is found to have a special education need an IEP should be written. This is, as stated previously, a road map to your child’s education plan. It should be reviewed annually but can be reviewed more frequently if it is decided to do so. The special education team, often referred to as a multidisciplinary team, will be responsible for writing the IEP. You are a member of that team. Your child is also entitled to be a member of the team and it is particularly important for secondary school students to participate in this stage of planning. This gives them a sense of ownership and control over their educational life.

Be sure that the plan covers all the areas of concern that have been discovered in the assessment process. Plans for children with social and behavioural difficulties that address only academic issues are useless and doomed to fail. Special education planning is a thoughtful and time-consuming process when it is done correctly. Don’t feel rushed into accepting a plan you don’t think will work. Take it away and ask if you can return in a week to revise it with the team. This may not make you the most popular parent in the school but it is responsible parenting.

Possible Panels:

Autism/Asperger’s in Secondary School

There are large numbers of children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder that are having considerable difficulty finding a secondary school to enrol them. The problem revolves around the lack of supports at second level and the lack of teacher training in this speciality area. Unfortunately there is little that can be done if a school refuses to enrol a child on the autistic spectrum. What is needed is the development of resource support. By that I mean resource rooms where these children can get services by a specialist teacher. Availability to the teachers of advanced training. Availability of print and video resources teachers can access to learn more about the spectrum. Along with this there should be a whole-school commitment to inclusion for children on the spectrum so they are not isolated from same-age peers.

The education of children on the spectrum is not that difficult once educators get the knowledge about how to do it and have the proper attitude towards these children and their families. Of course they present us with challenges but the good news is that once we get it reasonably right for them we begin to improve the education of all children. There are considerable challenges in the future to our secondary schools in education these children and it is time to get it right. Those schools which stubbornly refuse to enrol children on the spectrum are in the stone age of education. There is a clear choice for secondary schools in relation to these children: be in the forefront of change and development or be left behind forever. Parents will not forgive or forget. It’s time to get it right once and for all.

ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects about 5% of all children and adults. Unlike other special education conditions, children and adolescents with ADHD are frequently blamed for having the condition, perceived as hostile or unmotivated, lazy or cheeky. When ADHD goes untreated it becomes a serious condition affecting self-esteem, motivation, behaviour, self-confidence and relationships with adults and peers. ADHD is a high-stakes condition and it needs to be recognised that students who have it didn’t choose to be the way they are.

ADHD is a condition that is caused by brain chemistry and activity. It is a neurobiological condition. People with ADHD often have difficulty paying attention and concentrating, especially on things that require sustained attention and concentration. The can have problems controlling their emotions and impulses, can rush to finish things or have considerable difficulty waiting their turn. They often ask questions without thinking them through and sometimes make unfortunate comments in front of others.

ADHD is a life-long condition. One never grows out of it but the symptom picture changes over time. Often the impulsivity and high level of activity, if they were initially present, disappear in the teen years. The learning problems associated with ADHD do not go away easily and it is vitally important for them to be addressed in school. As in the case of children on the autistic spectrum, once educators and schools get it correct for children with ADHD they have improved the educational provision of all children.

Understanding is critically important. Adolescents with significant ADHD do not chose to be in trouble with and in conflict with adults. Constant rejection and criticism, constant punishment, and in severe cases expulsion from school is not the answer. Corrective teaching is the answer and appropriate support from specialist teachers is vital.

Three Steps To Becoming A Successful Nonfiction Author

If you want to be a successful nonfiction author, you must recognize that you are in the business of helping people solve their problems. That’s what distinguishes nonfiction from fiction. Whether you’re writing a how-to, self-help, reference or cookbook you are offering tips, guidance and motivation to waiting readers. The writer who is able to speak directly to the needs of the reader is the writer who will be most effective in getting her books read, bought and shared. You can be that successful nonfiction author if you follow these three steps.

1. Become a good listener

At a recent writing workshop, I listened to the many questions members of the audience asked about writing and publishing their books. A few of them are

· Do we need to finish a book before submitting it to a publisher?

· How do I go about organizing the information I’ve been writing for years?

· What’s involved in self-publishing my book?

· How do I know if I can trust an editor with my manuscript?

· How do I decide on the topic of my book?

People reveal a lot about themselves as they speak and especially when they ask questions. If you are a good listener you learn a lot about people, their intentions and their underlying messages. By listening to their questions about your topic area you know what parts of your topic you most need to cover.

A good listener is an active listener. Trial lawyers use active listening when they connect pieces of seemingly unrelated testimony to formulate questions and lure a witness into a damming admission. I’m not suggesting that you become devious but listening actively can help you better understand others and more importantly be able to target your writing to the exact solution the reader needs.

As an active listener, be attentive to what the speaker doesn’t say. It’s as important as being attentive to what he does say. Look for non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and posture to get the full gist of what the speaker is telling you.

2. Stimulate people to give you helpful answers

A successful hunter must point his weapon at the target before he pulls the trigger. The extent to which he can get the prey in his sights and keep it there is the extent to which he will hit his intended target.

Likewise, to become a successful nonfiction author, you must give people the answers and solutions to their problems, concerns and pain. To do that, you must find out what these are.

Ask questions that help you understand the needs of your readers, your audience or your social media fans.

You can ask an open-ended question like

What do you struggle with most in trying to [lose weight, write your book, save money or whatever is your topic]?

Or you can give a list of options

a. how to get started

b. sticking to a schedule

c. dealing with distractions

d. Other____________

If you decide to give options, it’s important to give an “Other” option so they can add what you couldn’t anticipate.

When you are in a live conversation with the potential reader, follow-up questions can be very telling. For example, if someone indicates that he struggles with getting started on a diet, what do he means specifically: finding a program that works, working with a program she owns but deciding how to fit it into her life, is she between a liquid diet or one that involves food, or fear of feeling deprived or having to spend extra money on special foods. Knowing specifically which of these concerns the reader will help you address your writing directly to those needs.

3. Learn to do some basic keyword research

In a popular tourist town a number of shops were open for business along a busy street. It was a hot summer day and shoppers stopped by one store inquiring if the store sold ice cream. They sold a variety of other cool products, but no ice cream.

One passerby after another entered the store inquiring if they sold ice cream, but the store owner kept turning them away. He began to even get annoyed that folks wanted to buy what he didn’t sell.

The store next door to the first one, however, began to realize that ice cream was what people were seeking on that hot summer day. So he sent one of his workers on an errand to the grocery store to stock up on ice cream, cones and an ice cream scoop. When the worker returned, the clever storekeeper put a sign in his window “We Sell Ice Cream,” and capitalized on the demand. He soon sold out.

Since the advent of the Internet, understanding what people are searching for has been very helpful to marketers. It enables them to understand the motivations of the consumer and thereby better plan, create and position products.

Learning what people are searching for when they visit the Internet puts you on sounder footing with reaching your readers than writing on a random topic or niche.

Although keyword research is part of a more intricate process called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can learn some basics to better target your writing.

Every time someone types a word or phrase into Google, YouTube or any other place on the Internet, that phrase is stored. SEO experts can retrieve the stored data and plot what people are searching for in great detail. When they share this information with their clients, it takes the guesswork out of figuring out exactly what people are seeking and therefore most likely to buy.

On a simple level, you can benefit from this technology by noting what Google suggests to you as soon as you type in the main word of your topic. Those suggested terms tell you what other people have already searched.

When I typed “How to…” in Google search box, the following suggestions appeared

· How to tie a tie

· How to love lyrics

· How to lose weight fast

If I wanted to write a how-to article or book, these could begin to point me toward what seems popular. Keep in mind that these could be different on different days.

You can get more specific indicators when you use free keyword tools from providers such as Wordtracker, Google Adwords or Keyword Discovery. They will give you more detailed information about what people are searching for in specific niches and help you decide which keywords to use in the body, title and description of your work.

Of course, the clearer idea you have of the topic you want to cover, the more specific will be the terms you search.

There are many other actions to becoming a successful nonfiction writer, but following these three steps will start you on the right road to publication and profits from your work.

Three Steps To Becoming A Successful Nonfiction Author

If you want to be a successful nonfiction author, you must recognize that you are in the business of helping people solve their problems. That’s what distinguishes nonfiction from fiction. Whether you’re writing a how-to, self-help, reference or cookbook you are offering tips, guidance and motivation to waiting readers. The writer who is able to speak directly to the needs of the reader is the writer who will be most effective in getting her books read, bought and shared. You can be that successful nonfiction author if you follow these three steps.

1. Become a good listener

At a recent writing workshop, I listened to the many questions members of the audience asked about writing and publishing their books. A few of them are

· Do we need to finish a book before submitting it to a publisher?

· How do I go about organizing the information I’ve been writing for years?

· What’s involved in self-publishing my book?

· How do I know if I can trust an editor with my manuscript?

· How do I decide on the topic of my book?

People reveal a lot about themselves as they speak and especially when they ask questions. If you are a good listener you learn a lot about people, their intentions and their underlying messages. By listening to their questions about your topic area you know what parts of your topic you most need to cover.

A good listener is an active listener. Trial lawyers use active listening when they connect pieces of seemingly unrelated testimony to formulate questions and lure a witness into a damming admission. I’m not suggesting that you become devious but listening actively can help you better understand others and more importantly be able to target your writing to the exact solution the reader needs.

As an active listener, be attentive to what the speaker doesn’t say. It’s as important as being attentive to what he does say. Look for non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and posture to get the full gist of what the speaker is telling you.

2. Stimulate people to give you helpful answers

A successful hunter must point his weapon at the target before he pulls the trigger. The extent to which he can get the prey in his sights and keep it there is the extent to which he will hit his intended target.

Likewise, to become a successful nonfiction author, you must give people the answers and solutions to their problems, concerns and pain. To do that, you must find out what these are.

Ask questions that help you understand the needs of your readers, your audience or your social media fans.

You can ask an open-ended question like

What do you struggle with most in trying to [lose weight, write your book, save money or whatever is your topic]?

Or you can give a list of options

a. how to get started

b. sticking to a schedule

c. dealing with distractions

d. Other____________

If you decide to give options, it’s important to give an “Other” option so they can add what you couldn’t anticipate.

When you are in a live conversation with the potential reader, follow-up questions can be very telling. For example, if someone indicates that he struggles with getting started on a diet, what do he means specifically: finding a program that works, working with a program she owns but deciding how to fit it into her life, is she between a liquid diet or one that involves food, or fear of feeling deprived or having to spend extra money on special foods. Knowing specifically which of these concerns the reader will help you address your writing directly to those needs.

3. Learn to do some basic keyword research

In a popular tourist town a number of shops were open for business along a busy street. It was a hot summer day and shoppers stopped by one store inquiring if the store sold ice cream. They sold a variety of other cool products, but no ice cream.

One passerby after another entered the store inquiring if they sold ice cream, but the store owner kept turning them away. He began to even get annoyed that folks wanted to buy what he didn’t sell.

The store next door to the first one, however, began to realize that ice cream was what people were seeking on that hot summer day. So he sent one of his workers on an errand to the grocery store to stock up on ice cream, cones and an ice cream scoop. When the worker returned, the clever storekeeper put a sign in his window “We Sell Ice Cream,” and capitalized on the demand. He soon sold out.

Since the advent of the Internet, understanding what people are searching for has been very helpful to marketers. It enables them to understand the motivations of the consumer and thereby better plan, create and position products.

Learning what people are searching for when they visit the Internet puts you on sounder footing with reaching your readers than writing on a random topic or niche.

Although keyword research is part of a more intricate process called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can learn some basics to better target your writing.

Every time someone types a word or phrase into Google, YouTube or any other place on the Internet, that phrase is stored. SEO experts can retrieve the stored data and plot what people are searching for in great detail. When they share this information with their clients, it takes the guesswork out of figuring out exactly what people are seeking and therefore most likely to buy.

On a simple level, you can benefit from this technology by noting what Google suggests to you as soon as you type in the main word of your topic. Those suggested terms tell you what other people have already searched.

When I typed “How to…” in Google search box, the following suggestions appeared

· How to tie a tie

· How to love lyrics

· How to lose weight fast

If I wanted to write a how-to article or book, these could begin to point me toward what seems popular. Keep in mind that these could be different on different days.

You can get more specific indicators when you use free keyword tools from providers such as Wordtracker, Google Adwords or Keyword Discovery. They will give you more detailed information about what people are searching for in specific niches and help you decide which keywords to use in the body, title and description of your work.

Of course, the clearer idea you have of the topic you want to cover, the more specific will be the terms you search.

There are many other actions to becoming a successful nonfiction writer, but following these three steps will start you on the right road to publication and profits from your work.

Colleges For Studying Interior Designing

Nowadays, creative professions have become very popular. Young people prefer to earn money not with their strength and physical capabilities, not even with their mind, but creativeness. These days, young people are very advanced and already before entering senior secondary school they are full with ideas concerning their future profession. Starting to work in the fields connected with creative skills and new tendencies in society is the major goal of today’s youth.

It is a true point of view that uniqueness and creativity are the most important tools of success today. Each person possesses his or her own creative potential, thus, one wishes to develop these skills and talent by mastering some new profession or a course. The latter will not only suggest a person the space for thinking and creativeness, but also invention something new and unusual which has never been done by previous generations. Besides, such creative people are able to build a fundamental starting-point for future generations. Here the freshness of a new approach is of great importance.

It is widely known that there are many new fields and tendencies nowadays. Most of such professions are highly creative demanding a sober and unique imagination, for instance, cinema acting, theatre acting, writing, dancing, painting, crafts, radio jockeying, anchoring, fashion designing, interior designing etc. There is no doubt, that all of these professions are greatly popular among young people, but interior designing can be singled out due to its uniqueness. This uniqueness consists in the fact that it gives an opportunity to future designers to transform the whole universe of their ideas and thinking power into the object of creative beauty. Only the noblest people deserve to have the profession of an interior designer. It’s in their power to decorate one’s house that is considered to be one of the most precious properties in a person’s life. It’s the place a number of people have already got used to and it’s designer’s task to make it much better than it was before.

In order to become a good interior designer one has to be able to fulfill the professional demands of the industry. Thus, students should train their working standards in special colleges which have started courses in interior designing. To enter such a college one has to pass an entrance test which is conducted by the colleges to test imaginative analytical skills, technical drawing, sketching skills of the students.

The applications to the interior designing colleges can be made by the student only after he has passed with his 12th exams. The duration of the course can vary from two to four years, it depends on the chosen course and the institute from which the student is planning to receive his education. There are different colleges providing professional courses in interior designing and you are welcome to make your own choice. They are:

> Lovely Professional University, Phagwara

> Academy of Art and Design, Maharashtra

> International Academy of Fashion and Design, Chennai

Architects may design different surroundings, for instance, those designing the houses, offices, hotels, malls, retail shops, film studios, cultural establishments (museums, theatres, cinemas), educational institutions (kindergartens, schools, colleges, institutes, universities), sports establishments (stadiums, sports palaces), nutritional establishments (canteens, cafes, restaurants), medical establishments (hospitals, health centres, preventoriums, polyclinics), public offices, adventure spots, conference halls etc. No doubt, all of designers are always in demand to decorate their interiors as well as exteriors.

After completing his degree in interior designing a student should start his studying as the intern or trainee in some designing house. It is especially necessary to do in the beginning of their career in order to get an experience needed in future activity. This will certainly give a student such an important initial practical knowledge required to implement in further career. There are certain qualities which an interior designing student must possess. Here you will probably ask – What are the Qualities that Make a Good Interior Designer? They are as follows:

– Every future interior decorator should be able to read the mind of the customer and accomplish the designs according to the wishes of the customer. Very often a person is not quite sure what he or she wants to have in his or her house. In this case a good designer should have a skill to feel the client’s likes and dislikes in order to meet his interests.

– A nice Interior designer should keep himself updated with the latest tendencies in the design and new developments as well as innovation in the world of designing in general. In order to get new information about progress in the world of design, a designer should visit new design houses, communicate with more experienced interior designers, look through design websites etc.

– A perfect interior decorator must be very creative and imaginative, it means he must be able to implement some new ideas for every new project. There are many interior designers who follow the standard rules of design in which there are good enough because they have often practiced them. No doubt, that such designers are not bad at all, but on the other hand, they are not able to suggest the client something fresh and unique. Thus, their works become more and more monotonous and the development of a designer, as a professional, stops on this stage. Besides, they cannot bring excitement in the world of design. So, an interior designer must be creative not only for the sake of his clients, but also in order to refresh the interior design in general.

– The next point also concerns the interests of the customer. A designer should be able to organize the design in accordance with the budget and financial status of the customer. Each new client requires his individual approach and his wishes do not always coincide with his material opportunities. In this case a good designer should be rather tactic to suggest his client something identical but for lower price.

– A good interior designer should possess a good sense of texture and color combinations, as well as work on improving his knowledge of different classifications of interiors. Besides, he should be able to define what kind of design could be suitable for this or that room.

– It would be preferable for the designs created by the interior designer to be more than the term satisfactory for the customer. It is needed for further cooperation not only with that customer, but also with those who will probably come to you after seeing your great design made in the house of your previous customer, for instance. Besides, this will ensure your regularity with the organization you work in.

– A designer should have an ability to handle stress and problems which can appear during his activity. Having a problem one shouldn’t simply shudder at the thought of possible bigger problems, but real interior designers take the problems by the horn, get things under control, and even if a problem occurs, they try to solve it. Problems of interior designers may include the following: developing a design that their clients will hopefully like, meeting the interests of both clients and building code, having to deal with difficult and inadequate clients most of the time, handling different projects all at the same time, etc.

As you can see, the profession of an interior designer is full of difficulties. Nevertheless, this is the job bringing real aesthetical pleasure. Besides, it brings great financial reward.