St. Declan's School is a co-educational school which caters for children with special needs from four to twelve years of age who, because of mild emotional/behavioural difficulties or difficulties associated with high functioning autistic spectrum disorders, are temporarily unable to fully benefit from mainstream education. St. Declan's is designated and equipped to cater only for children without a history of aggressive or violent behaviour that causes or threatens physical harm. Children at St. Declan's receive a tailored intervention in small class settings for a period of two years (which in special circumstances may be extended to three years) in order to better assist them reach their potential when they return to a mainstream educational environment.
School Principals, Psychologists, SENO's or other relevant professionals generally make the referral to St. Declans (although it is expected that parents/guardians will always be consulted). Sometimes parents make the referral themselves. The person making the referral simply writes to or phones the principal, asking to refer the child and an information pack and application forms will be sent out. Making an application to the school Enrolment Committee should be accompanied by:
A completed application form.
- Evidence of cognitive functioning. This requires a cognitive psychological assessment or indicative measures from the current school such as the Non Reading Intelligence Test or Cognitive Abilities Test (within a two year period of date of application) and,
- A report from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist which states that a pupil has a diagnosed Emotional and/or Behavioural Disorder (conditions such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder etc..)
- A report from a NEPS psychologist or other educational psychologist which states that a pupil has significant and persistent Emotional and/or Behavioural Difficulties.
The report must provide supporting evidence* for these difficulties and state that they are impairing his/her socialisation and/or learning in school. The report must also provide confirmation of treatment.**
A statement by a psychiatrist/clinical psychologist confirming assessment and diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder as per DSM V with multi-disciplinary assessment team involvement in the assessment (where at all feasible).
- Any additional available professional reports i.e. Speech & language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Worker etc...
Applications for enrolment for the following school year should be made as early as possible in the school year in order to allow time to process the applications, make application to the NCSE for resources, and to give parents adequate time to find an alternative placement should the application be unsuccessful. Applications will be processed as quickly as possible in accordance with the availability of places. Applications cannot be processed during July & August.
Processing of Applications:
Prospective parents/guardians may visit the school during school hours by arrangement (as may relevant health and education professionals). We recommend this as it will help decide whether to proceed with an application. On this visit there is usually and opportunity to meet the School Principal and to see the facilities on offer at the school. On receipt of an application a letter of acknowledgement is sent to the child's parents and the Principal of the child's school.The school principal will be contacted and asked to furnish a pro-forma report on the child's progress at school and to give an undertaking that the child can be re-enrolled in the school following placement.
A questionnaire may also be sent out to parents and to the school for completion at this point. This helps to further establish whether St. Declans can best meet the needs of the child. Once this information is gathered and questionnaires are analysed, an Admissions Summary Report is prepared. As part of the consultation process with the Enrolment Committee, this report along with school & professional reports are considered and your child's needs are discussed. Usually a decision is then made as to whether or not to recommend to the Board of Management that a place be offered. Parents, the school principal (and the referring agency, if appropriate) are informed of the Board's decision in writing.
The Enrolment Committee
The Enrolment Committee is appointed annually by the Board of Management, and consists of the Principal (or Deputy Principal in the absence of the Principal), relevant health professionals, a representative from the National Educational Psychological Service and a representative from the National Council for Special Needs who assist the Principal in determining whether to recommend a placement at St. Declan's School. Using their professional knowledge and experience, the team formulates an opinion regarding each application.
In some instances the Enrolment Committee may feel that they cannot make a decision until further information is available. A decision will then be deferred until this information is collected. Additional reports may be needed. A meeting with parents and/or other agencies may be required. Sometimes it is useful if one of the Enrolment team can visit your child in their present school and carry out an observation. At this time, the team member can also discuss your child's strengths and difficulties with the school staff. Such school visits are entirely at the discretion of the School Principal. Before such a visit takes place, parents will be consulted. Once all additional necessary information has been collected, the Enrolment committee re-considers the application and a decision is made and communicated in the normal manner.
If a decision is made that child does not meet the criteria for enrolment and would not be best served by placement at St. Declans School, a letter is sent informing parents and the school principal that the child is not eligible for enrolment and clarifying the grounds for refusal.
In line with section 28 of the Education Act 1998, parents who are dissatisfied with an enrolment decision, may appeal to the Board of Management. This appeal must be addressed, in writing, to the Chairperson of the Board, stating the grounds for the appeal, and lodged within ten days of receiving the refusal. Parents, if unhappy with the result of this appeal, may appeal to the Department of Education and Science under Section 29 of the Education Act on the official form provided by the Department. Appeal forms will be provided by the school. This appeal must be lodged within 42 days of receipt of the refusal from the school to enrol.
Approval for Transport and Other Supports
Once a place at St. Declans has been offered and accepted in writing, the School Principal with parents makes application to the National Council for Special Education asking it to approve transport arrangements and other appropriate supports. This process may take a number of weeks.
As soon as this approval is received and a place is available, the starting date can be set. In the majority of cases, children begin their placement at St. Declans at the start of the school year in September. The whole process from referral to enrolment can take anything from a few weeks to a number of months. If you have any queries/concerns about a child's application, you can contact the School Principal.
Transition Back to Mainstream
In the majority of cases, it is anticipated that children will spend 2 to 3 years at St. Declans reviewed annually. At the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meeting at the beginning of the second year of placement, a plan will be put in place to facilitate a smooth transition back to the child's mainstream setting at the start of the following school year. In the case of transition to second level, or if parents consider a different or another specialised setting more appropriate, it is the parent's responsibility (with the assistance of their SENO (Special Education Needs Officer) or Education Welfare Officer (EWO) to secure such placement for their child. In exceptional circumstances and with board of management approval, a third year at St. Declans may be considered and in circumstances where a child has reached 11+ years of age on entry, a single year at St. Declans may be considered.
*Based on information derived from some, or all of the following: structured observation of the pupil in school, interview/s with teachers, parents and relevant others, checklists of behaviour, standardised assessment of behaviour (e.g. on the Achenbach Child Behaviour Checklist or Conners' Rating Scales) which indicates that behaviour is in the clinically highly significant range of difficulty, the pupil's view of his/her behavioural response.
**Where a HSE psychiatrist or psychologist or NEPS identify and oversee a relevant intervention to be provided and a student is accessing same, this is regarded as treatment.
The above proceedures for enrolment were approved by the Board of Management of St. Declan's School on 25th February 2014