Inclusion of children, enrolled in the ASD unit, with mainstream classes
This policy was drawn up by the whole teaching staff of St. Helen’s Junior School, in consultation with the Board of Management. Saint Helen’s Junior School is an inclusive school and aims to enable children with disabilities to share with their peers in as complete an educational experience as possible.
We aim to best meet the educational needs of each individual child in the school. The purpose of the inclusion, of a child with ASD with a mainstream class, is to provide the child with the experience of a mainstream class so that he/she is given the opportunity to model appropriate behaviours and experience and respond to age appropriate mainstream teaching. The mainstream teacher is not responsible for the academic progress of the child. The responsibility for this progress lies with the special needs teacher.
Inclusion with mainstream classes for children, enrolled in our junior and senior outreach classes for children with ASD, may take place in accordance with
• Mainstream class considerations
• Class size
• The number of other children with special needs in a class
• The number of SNAs allocated to a class
• The number of age appropriate mainstream classes available to meet the needs of the child with ASD
• Special class considerations
• Number of SNAs allocated to a class etc.
• The availability of SNA staff to facilitate inclusion
• Individual children’s I.E.Ps
The safety of all pupils and staff will always over-ride the provision of inclusion. The level and length of inclusion time will be decided, taking into account:
• Mainstream class considerations
• Recommendations of the special class teacher
• Recommendations of the Beechpark psychologist
• Parents/Guardians wishes.
The principal Miriam Dowdall, will take the final decision regarding all matters relating to inclusion. Children being integrated with the mainstream classes will be accompanied by an SNA, coming to and going from their mainstream class. This may not be required when the child has reached a degree of independence, which allows him/her to safely move from one location to another. When this is the case, it will be noted in his/her inclusion plan. Inclusion will not take place during the month of September in order to allow the class teachers, both mainstream and special needs, to familiarise themselves with their new classes.
Children enrolled in our junior infant outreach class will be integrated with mainstream classes for playground time and special social events: e.g. sports days, concerts, theatre trips etc. Children enrolled in our pre-school outreach class will be integrated with mainstream classes for playground time and sports days. All children in our ASD unit take part in a daily period of inclusion and experience being part of a group of up to eighteen, when all three classes come together for a variety of activities.
During the month of September, the inclusion co-ordinator will arrange to meet with the special needs teachers from our unit for children with ASD.
At these meetings the following will be discussed:
• The names of the children for whom inclusion is recommended
• Who has recommended the inclusion: psychologist or special class teacher?
• The long term inclusion plans for the particular child
• The short term inclusion plans for the particular child
• The child’s previous history of inclusion
• The level of SNA support required
• The availability of SNA support
• The wishes of the child’s parents/guardians (in light of the recommendations of relevant professionals)
• Identification of the appropriate class level with which the child will be integrated.
During the month of September, the inclusion co-ordinator will meet with the mainstream class teachers, of those classes that have been identified as of a suitable level for the proposed inclusion of children with ASD.
Account will be taken of the previously mentioned mainstream considerations:
• Size of class
• Number of other children with special needs in the mainstream class
• Number of SNAs allocated to the class
A decision will be taken with regard to which class can facilitate the proposed inclusion. A further meeting, attended by the special needs and mainstream teachers and the inclusion co-ordinator, will be held to decide the proposed inclusion details:
• Level of SNA support
• Review date
The inclusion co-ordinator will meet with the principal, Lorna Lavin, who will sanction, or not, the proposed inclusion, having considered how best to meet the needs of all the children in our school. Review meetings will be held at the end of November, the beginning of February, the end of May, and will be attended by the mainstream and special needs teachers and the inclusion co-ordinator. The SNA will not usually attend but will report to the special needs teacher on a daily basis regarding the child’s inclusion behaviour. An increase in inclusion time is not automatic on review.
Often a consolidation time is required and in occasional circumstances a reduction in inclusion time might be deemed necessary.
Communication with parents/guardians
A copy of this policy document will be given to the parent/guardians of each child enrolling in our preschool and outreach classes. The parents/guardians of the child with ASD will communicate with the child’s special needs teacher regarding all school progress including inclusion. Where a child is integrated with a mainstream class for three and a half hours or more per day, the parents may communicate with the mainstream class teacher, if they so wish.
The children in our unit for children with ASD are supported by Beechpark Services. A copy of this policy will be given to the Beechpark team. The special class teacher will report to the Beechpark team on how the child’s inclusion is progressing. This report will include the mainstream class teacher’s comments and observations that were made at the review meetings.
Current practice, regarding the observation of the child during inclusion, is:
• The SNA accompanying the child reports to the special class teacher
• The mainstream teacher reports to the special class teacher at the regular review meetings.
Occasionally, a Beechpark therapist may require specific information regarding a child’s behaviour during inclusion. In the interest of avoiding disruption to the mainstream class and the child being integrated, this information will be obtained in the least intrusive manner possible.
• The therapist may draw up a checklist of specific behaviours, which they wish to be observed.
The SNA accompanying the child may then complete the checklist, if necessary, in consultation with the mainstream class teacher.
• In exceptional circumstances, and where it is deemed to be essential, the Beechpark therapist may observe in the mainstream class.
This process will be initiated by contact with the principal, Ms Lavin. When the arrangements for the observation have been finalised with the school, the parents will be informed. The inclusion co-ordinator will keep a record of all meetings and decisions taken at the initial meetings in September each year and also of the regular review meetings. He/she will furnish a copy of those reports to the relevant special needs and mainstream teachers. All decisions of the Board of Management is subject to appeal to the DES.