Learning Support in Loreto College Cavan

The Loreto Philosophy of Education is rooted in the concept of a caring Christian Community in which pupils have the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential and therefore grow spiritually, emotionally, socially, creatively and physically in a healthy caring environment.  This is why the Learning Support Policy is whole school based and requires the support of the whole staff if the essential success of the Learning Support Programme of full inclusion is to occur.The Department of Education and Science defines students who need learning support as including:

‘All those whose disabilities and/or circumstances prevent or hinder them from benefiting adequately from the education which is normally provided for pupils of the same age, or for whom the education which can generally be provided in the ordinary classroom is not sufficiently challenging’

The teacher, as a professional, will be aware of the range of abilities and aptitudes of the pupils in his/her care and will cater for these in the lessons taught. Most children learn and progress well within these arrangements. Those who do not may have educational needs.

Aims of Learning Support

Loreto College is committed to providing an education for its students in a caring and supportive environment. The aim of the College is that all students achieve their full potential. In order to achieve this goal some of our students may require supplementary teaching, additional resources, classroom support or the provision of specialised equipment. In all cases it is the intention to integrate students socially and academically. We aim to provide a continuum of support for identified students.

3. Definition

The students who fall within the Special Needs definition include

• Pupils with learning difficulties and disorders

• Pupils with physical and sensory disabilities

• Pupils with emotional and behavioural disorders

• Pupils with other special needs


Formal testing will be used to assess reading comprehension, verbal reasoning and numerical ability. This will normally take place in February prior to entry into the College.



Assessment of incoming First Years takes place in March of the previous school year. Students sit the CAT 3 (Cognitive Abilities Test).

The test is made up of three test batteries:

  1. Verbal Reasoning
  2. Non – Verbal Reasoning
  3. Quantitative Reasoning

It indicates the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of students. Results can also be banded according to Standard Score so that students can be categorised according to their cognitive strengths and weaknesses.   Results are used to ensure mixed ability grouping in First Year. Results can also be used to support and inform decision making as the student progresses through the school.

Access to data on the performance of students might be helpful to teachers when setting goals for students. Following collaboration between the Special Needs Co-Ordinator and the Principal results of the entrance assessment and any special consideration concerning SEN students may be conveyed to the relevant staff members.

Every effort is made to ensure the effective transition of all pupils to our school with particular emphasis on special needs pupils.

Further formal testing will be carried out again in September to ascertain further needs, where necessary.

• Pupils with special learning difficulties will be further assessed by the Special Needs Team and outside agencies, as considered appropriate, to identify on-going specific needs and to develop appropriate strategies to remediate difficulties.

• This process is continued to Junior Certificate where exam provision, e.g. reasonable accommodation is made in consultation with students / parents / teachers.This process can also be continued in some cases up to Leaving Certificate.

Identification of Students with Special Needs.

The school aims to identify any students with special needs before they begin 1st year by:

  • Providing information regarding special need prior to the student coming in to the school ( parents night, one-to-one meetings/phone calls)
  • Requesting information from parents on the enrolment form
  • Liaising with Primary School teachers
  • Analysing the results of the entrance assessment
  • Information sharing through one-to-one interview between parents/guardians and staff members on open/enrolment day
  • Good communication with SENO and NEPS Psychologist to ensure resource hours, where applicable, are in place for September.
    • Where in-coming pupils are identified as having special needs, staff will meet parents and pupils to build a picture of the individual, their particular strengths and their specific learning difficulties.

The College will not be in a position to properly assist students with special needs where relevant reports are not submitted, or where information regarding family difficulties are not communicated to the relevant Year Head or Special Needs Co-ordinator.

  • A Pupil Details Form will also be completed for students entering the College in a year other than 1st Year. Reports concerning special needs will also be requested of parents/guardians in this case.

Student Records

  • The Learning Support Department will keep a register of students with psychological assessments.
  • A record is kept on file of each of the following for the duration of a student’s time in the school:
    • -student’s assessment details
    • -details of meetings, with student, parents, other –professional
    • -programme of learning to meet needs identified
    • Results of assessments will be provided to parents and relevant personnel.
    • Parents of students applying to transfer from other post-primary schools will be obliged to provide the principal with details and record of any Learning Support intervention prior to a decision being made about such application.
    • The learning support teacher is available to discuss results and assessments of students attending Learning Support

Learning Support Programme

5. Provision of the Learning Support Programme

Learning support provision is seen in the context of a whole school approach. The Special Needs Team takes primary responsibility for learning support provision and provides information to subject teachers as necessary. The aim of each teacher is to develop the individual student to his/her full potential. In addition to this:

• The Special Needs Team will endeavour to provide appropriate levels of support for pupils as part of the whole school approach.

• A number of pupils will be allocated to learning support class(es).

• Pupils with learning difficulties will be withdrawn in small groups where the timetable permits.

• Support teachers may offer learning support in the classroom.

• The Special Needs Team under the direction of the Co-ordinator will liaise with Year Heads and Subject Teachers to advise on particular learning difficulties and suggest strategies for the classroom.

• A student with special needs may be exempt from the study of Irish as recommended in an Educational Assessment. This will occur following consultation with parents/guardians.

  • On the occasion of in-house exams, mainstream teachers are expected to devise a ‘special’ exam, which recognises the learning support student’s achievements.
  • Parents are seen as playing a vital role in the Learning Support and will be expected to involve themselves in learning programmes.

The College is allocated additional teaching hours by the Department of Education and Science on the basis of psychologist reports submitted to the Department in the academic year preceding the year of entry of a pupil. The College may not be in a position to allocate additional support, to exempt pupils from certain subjects or withdraw pupils from normal class where no such report has been completed and submitted in good time.

The level of support provided to a pupil with special needs will be based on the resources allocated from the Department of Education and Science for that pupil and on an assessment of the needs of that pupil undertaken by the Special Needs Co-ordinator.

Parents/guardians should be aware that where a pupil is withdrawn from a class for the purposes of special needs support it will not be possible to make good all of the topics missed as a result of absence from the class.

Role of Special Needs Co-ordinator

The Special Needs Co-ordinator is responsible for co-ordinating the Special Needs Team in the College and for ensuring the provision of special needs support for all pupils identified as having special needs. In particular the Co-ordinator will:

• Read, interpret and disseminate information from psychological reports, as appropriate

• Work with and support where possible subject teachers who work with pupils with special needs

• Allocate additional teaching hours to pupils, as appropriate

• Organise appropriate teachers for these hours, as appropriate

• Organise the continued testing of pupils, on an annual and individual basis, where deemed necessary

• Liaise with parents, internal support groups, the relevant Year Head and outside bodies, as appropriate

• Source resources for use with special needs pupils

• Organise reasonable examination accommodation, where appropriate

• Seek to identify students with specific learning difficulties.

• Co-ordinate Individual Education Plans

• Keep all records regarding student progress in the area of special needs

Special Needs Assistants (SNAs)

Special Needs Assistants are recruited specifically to assist pupils with disabilities in an educational context. SNAs may be involved in supporting the student both in an academic context within the classroom and in the wider sphere of their personal and social education outside of the classroom.

Their duties are assigned by the Principal and Special Needs Co-ordinator. Their work is supervised either by the Principal or another teacher as determined by the Principal.