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Additional education Needs


Pupils who are entitled to Resource Hours are given the allocation by the Department of Education and Science following a submission by the school management. Such allocations are usually based on findings from a Psychological/Educational report and related data provided by school management. The granting of these hours is not based on intellectual ability. Generally Pupils who have a Physical or Medical difficulty, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and Dyspraxia are awarded hours.


A Resource teacher is assigned to each pupil and works with her individually or in a small group. The area of work that is carried out depends on the pupil’s needs e.g. social skills, organisation and subject work. The progress of the pupil is monitored and evaluated in the context of an individual education plan (IEP).


Learning Support

Learning support is designed to help pupils with learning difficulties to achieve academic success in school. This support provides learning programmes for the students who have been assessed as low achieving. Some pupils will normally be performing at or below the 10th percentile on nationally standardised tests in English reading and/or Mathematics.


An individual learning programme is drawn up for each pupil based on assessment of needs and specific learning targets are set for each pupil. A teacher works with groups of pupils and work is carried out based on their academic needs e.g. reading, comprehension, spelling, writing skills, study skills and mathematics.


Understanding Psychological Reports

Tests of intellectual or cognitive ability are often reported in terms of the student’s category of ability, but sometimes also in terms of numerical scores. Different tests use different definitions and even the same tests use different definitions in different versions. The most commonly used test in Ireland is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, now in its fourth edition (WISC IV, 2004).


IQ (standard scores), percentiles and ability classification


IQ score (standard score)  -  Percentile   -   Classification of ability

130+   -   98-99  -   Very high, very superior, gifted

120-129   -   91-97   -   High, superior

110-119   -   75-90   -   High average, above average

90-109   -   25-74   -   Average

80-89   -  9-24   -  Low average, dull normal

70-79   -  3-8   -   Low, borderline

Below 70   -  (50-69) 1-2 Exceptionally low, mild learning difficulties/disabilities, mild mental handicap

Below 50    -  0.1 Moderate learning difficulties/ disabilities, moderate mental handicap


Standard Scores

Many types of tests report standard scores, including tests of literacy, as well as tests of intellectual ability. A test is standardised on a particular population and standard scores show where the assessed person is, relative to the cohort on whom the test was standardised. Standard scores can readily be converted into percentiles. A standard score of 100 is exactly average, while a standard score of 70 is very low and a standard score of 130 is exceptionally high.



A percentile is how well a person performs compared to 100 people of the same age. Therefore a student who achieves a percentile of 27, performed as well as or better than 27 out of 100 children of the same age-which is within the average range.

Information on students with learning difficulties is available from the coordinator of special educational needs. Some of the common conditions which affect learning are listed below together with some information which may be of use in teaching such students.


Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome is a development disorder that falls within the autistic spectrum. It is sometimes referred to as high functioning autism. Asperger Syndrome is characterised by difficulty with three main areas- social interaction, communication and imagination (e.g. imagining what others are thinking). Some pupils may have a strong interest in a specific area or hobby.

Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

  • Give students as much advance warning about changes to the scheduled programme as possible.

  • Colour coding will help her with her timetable and different textbooks.

  • Most AS students are visual learners. Any visual link you make will help her. Choose seating carefully. One of the most important considerations when choosing where to seat a student with AS is her sensory sensitivities.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Students with ADHD are hyperactive and have trouble focusing they often act out without thinking. They find it difficult to sit still, pay attention or attend to detail. Students with ADHD will fidget and talk excessively they may blurt out answers and find it hard to remain seated. They will dislike tasks that require mental effort and they have a tendency to lose things like notebooks or homework.

Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

  • Students need to sit near the teacher.

  • Keep instructions clear and brief, breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.

  • Give positive reinforcement.


Down Syndrome

This a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. While students with Down syndrome may share certain physical traits, each student is an individual and the level of general learning disability will range from mild to profound. The student with Down syndrome may have problems such as heart defects, respiratory problems and eye defects, and may variously exhibit the following characteristics: auditory and visual impairment, delayed fine- and gross-motor skills, difficulties with thinking and reasoning and applying knowledge in new situations, limited concentration span, poor auditory memory, speech and language impairment and sequencing difficulties. Generally speaking the student with Down syndrome will be better able to understand language than to communicate it expressively. Consequently cognitive skills are often underestimated. Each student with Down syndrome should be treated as an individual whose education is based on an assessment of his/her strengths and needs.


Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

  • Have high expectations for the student.  Be enthusiastic and encouraging.

  • If the student is highly distractible, seat the student away from windows and doors to minimize distractions in the environment.

  • Model the task and give the student many opportunities to perform it.  Break down tasks into smaller sequenced steps.

  • Ask the student to repeat or rephrase instructions.  Ask the student specific step-by-step questions to make sure the student has understood the instructions given.

  • Set aside time for frequent review and practice of tasks.

  • Allow the student adequate response time.

  • Give clear signals about the end of one activity and the beginning of the next.  Use picture cues or audio cues with young students. 

  • Create worksheets that do not have too many pictures or sentences with complicated wording. Highlight or print key words in bold.

  • Be flexible with attaining educational goals.  For example, if the student has difficulty writing with a pencil, teach the student to write using a computer.


Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which makes it hard for some people to learn or read, write and spell correctly.

Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

  • If possible, avoid asking a dyslexic student to read aloud in front of the class.

  • Some dyslexic students may find the learning of sequential information virtually impossible.

  • Over-learning is essential. You can never assume that the student will remember a topic covered only once or twice.

  • Try not to correct every error and set manageable targets. Focus on content rather than presentation.

  • Note taking can be difficult so arrange for notes to be photocopied from fellow students.

  • The dyslexic student should sit near the teacher so that the teacher can monitor progress and be available to provide any necessary assistance.

Dyspraxia/Developmental Co-Ordination disorder (DCD)

Those affected have significant motor coordination and perceptual processing difficulties whilst retaining normal intelligence. They are acutely aware that the way they process, present and record their learning is different from their peers. Students may arrive late to class due to difficulties with lockers. Students may forget books or homework due to poor planning. Student’s appearance may be untidy due to poor fine motor skills. Students may perform poorly in practical work and P.E. Students may have difficulty taking notes from the board and their handwriting may be sloppy.

Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

  • Arrange for notes to be photocopied from fellow students.

  • Allow extra time for completion of written tasks and accept typed homework assignments.


Mild General Learning Disability

This is a general learning problem as opposed to a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia. This means that the student has difficulty in learning in all areas. They will have an IQ in the low range 50-70. A student with a GMLD is said to have a significant impairment of intellectual, adaptive and social functioning. Therefore their difficulties are evident in their ability to understand academic work but also in the way they interact socially and emotionally. It may be useful to think of this student as a number of years younger than their chronological age.


Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

  • This pupil will generally be exempt from Irish and may need to pursue a limited timetable taking English, Maths at the lowest level.

  • Students will need guidance and help with terminology.

  • Students may need to do a reduced workload both in class and for homework.

  • Build opportunities for over-learning and repetition into lessons.

  • Differentiate questioning as well as teaching. Give the student opportunities to generalise knowledge and skills.

  • Help students to realise that making mistakes is part of the learning process.

  • Utilise active learning, participation and collaboration with peers.

  • Encourage the development of personal and social skills through all aspects of the curriculum and allow for the fact that social skills may also have to be taught explicitly.

  • Use a wide range of learning resources (e.g. visual aids (charts/artifacts), concrete objects, computer software and accessible texts).

  • Provide worksheets that minimise the amount of writing required.


Exceptionally Able and Gifted Students

The Report of the Special Education Review Committee (SERC 1993) defines students who are exceptionally gifted or talented as those who have demonstrated their capacity to achieve high performance in one or more of the following areas: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability, visual and performing arts, mechanical aptitude and psychomotor ability (e.g. athletics, gymnastics). The term ‘gifted’ tends to be reserved for those with an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) greater than 130 on standardised IQ tests, i.e. the top 2% of the population. It is important to remember that, although the number of such student’s decreases as IQ scores of 170 and above are reached, their needs become increasingly acute. As regular schoolwork may not be sufficiently challenging, students may describe experiencing boredom and frustration in school. Prolonged boredom in school may lead to underachievement as the student finds new ways to absorb him/herself (e.g. by daydreaming, scribbling, etc). If this goes unchallenged for long periods, the habit of concentrating on schoolwork may be diminished and can require an effort to ‘relearn’. Underachievement may also be related to perfectionism, where students are so afraid that their work won’t measure up to their own high standards that they avoid doing it, fearing the outcome. Some students may experience low self-esteem, stemming from a perception that they cannot live up to the expectations of parents and teachers. Also, in the pre-teen and teenage years, underachievement may be an attempt to conform and blend in with their peers.

Student’s requirements/needs within mainstream class:

•      Let them show you what they know.

•       Allow them to start with the most difficult task first.

•       Offer them choices based on their interests and talents.

•       Offer opportunities for higher level thinking.

•       Encourage a sense of humour and provide peer support.

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