Procedures and Policies for the
Senior Language Classes for
Presentation Primary School
Speech and Language
C/o Kilkenny Education Centre
The Language Classes are a joint venture between the Department of Education and Science and the H.S.E.
The Junior and Senior Language Classes which cater for children with Speech and Language disorder in the Carlow/Kilkenny area are based in the Presentation Primary School, Parnell Street, Kilkenny. The Junior Class was established in September 1994 and the Senior Class was established in 1997 by the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Science. A full time teacher and a part-time Speech and Language Therapist work in each class. The maximum number of children in each class is 7 and these children attend on a full time basis: five days a week, normal school hours 9.00a.m. – 2.40p.m. With the exception of Irish, the Primary School Curriculum is taught.
Due to the intense nature of the placement in the Language Unit children are required to have spent one year in a mainstream school prior to Language Class placement.
Definition of Specific Speech and Language Disorder:
The terms specific speech and language disorder (SSLD) and specific speech and language impairment (SSLI) are used interchangeably in the literature to describe a child’s speech and language presentation.
The term SSLI is favoured by the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists and is used in the following definition:
“Specific speech and language impairment (SSLI) is a term currently used to describe children whose skills in understanding and/or expressing themselves through speech and language is significantly impaired. These difficulties occur in the context of normal cognitive abilities and are not primarily attributable to social, emotional, behavioural, educational, physical or sensory difficulties” (Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists IASLT 2007).
The term SSLD is used throughout DES documentation and is being used throughout this document.
SSLD affects comprehension of language, speech and pragmatics either in isolation or as a combination. The severity of these can range from mild to severe.
Department of Education and Science (DES) Guidelines (2005):
Pupils should meet each of the following criteria:
- The pupil has been assessed by a Psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence that places non-verbal or performance ability within the average range or above;
- In the case of Specific Speech and Language disorder it is a pupil’s non-verbal or performance ability that must be within the average range or above (i.e non-verbal or performance IQ of 90, or above)
- The pupil has been assessed by a Speech and Language Therapist on a standardised test of language/speech development that places performance in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development at two standard deviations or more below or at a generally equivalent level i.e. 2 standard deviations or at or below a standard score of 70)
- The pupil’s difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment; where the pupil is affected to some degree by hearing impairment, the hearing threshold for speech-related frequencies should be 40dB
- Emotional and behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes
Note: It may be necessary to seek further professional reports to confirm a primary diagnosis of SSLD (e.g. Neurologist, Audiologist, Clinical Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Occupational Therapist).
Objectives of the Language Classes:
- To develop the child’s academic, social and emotional and
communication skills through speech and language therapy and intensive
- To maximise parental involvement in the above process by maintaining open
- To ensure the child experiences meaningful integration within the school.
- To maintain open communication with the school of origin/return and other
professionals working with the child so that the speech and language class
intervention will be of maximum benefit to the child.
Potential candidates suitable for Language class placement are typically identified by the local Speech and Language Therapy Team. The child’s speech and language therapist provides parents/guardians with an information leaflet on the language class. Parents are supported by the relevant professionals in making an application to the Board of Management of the school for a place in the class as appropriate. Parents/Guardians may also contact the school directly and fill in the application form.
The H.S.E. Speech and Language Therapists and the N.E.P.S. psychologist liaise as appropriate to support applications.
On receipt of the application, the Principal will send a copy of the Language Class Policy to parents/guardians. She will also send a blank class teacher’s report form to be filled in by the child’s class teacher, accompanied by a letter of explanation to the Principal. The parents/guardians must provide the school with an up to date speech and language report, psychological report and completed teachers forms to the Principal of the school in order for their child to be eligible for consideration at the admissions meeting – Closing date for applications will be 16th March. If that date is on a weekend, the closing date will then be the previous Friday.
The Principal makes appropriate reports available to members of the Advisory Committee prior to the admissions meeting.
The Advisory Committee:
The role of the Advisory Committee is to advise the Board of Management on issues relating to the admissions, retention and discharge of the children in the Language Class. The Advisory Committee comprises:
Speech and Language Class Teachers
Speech and Language Therapists
School Principal – representing the Board of Management
Speech and Language Therapy Manager
Designated National Educational Psychologist (NEPS).
The Principal reports the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on language class policy and practice to the Board of Management. The Committee also makes recommendations to the Board on the enrolment, retention and discharge of children to the language classes.
Review of Applications:
The Advisory Committee meets as soon as possible after the closing date for
- Evaluate new applications in the light of DES criteria (Circular 0038/2007) and
deem them eligible/ineligible.
- Prioritise the new eligible applicants using agreed procedures.
- Prioritise children not meeting eligibility criteria.
- Following the prioritisation of places to eligible candidates, if there are
more places than eligible candidates, concessionary places are then considered
according to Circular 0038/2007.
- Report recommendations regarding allocation of places to the school Board
If there are more children eligible for places than places offered, the Advisory Committee will advise the board of a prioritised waiting list. When the waiting list is accepted by the Board of Management, the list will operate for the first two terms of that school year. If a vacancy arises during that time, places will be offered to children on the waiting list in order of priority including those prioritised on the concessionary waiting list.
. If there is spare capacity in a language class because of insufficient eligible
children, the Advisory Committee advises the Board of Management on
offering concessionary places, to a maximum of two in each class, to
children who do not meet the DES eligibility criteria but who could benefit
from enrolment in the class for one year. Such placements must be
supported by a recommendation from a speech and language therapist and/or
Procedures for Enrolment:
. The School Principal reports the recommendations of the Advisory Committee
to the Board of Management and the board decides which children will be
. The school Principal then writes to the parents/guardians of all the children,
informing them of the decision of the board in relation to their child.
Parents/guardians of pupils who are not offered places are informed of their
right to appeal such a decision.
. Parents/guardians of pupils being offered a place are required to complete the following:
Language Unit Acceptance Form
NCSE Application Form
The school standard enrolment form.
Transport Form (if relevant)
. New Entrants are initially offered a placement for one year subject to
review in the first term.
. An Open Day is held in June for parents/guardians.
The children visit the classrooms and parents/guardians meet with school staff to discuss school and language class procedures and policies.
. A further meeting is held in September with all the parents/guardians to explain
the work of the language class, homework, etc.
Communication with Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO)
The Principal will inform the SENO of the decisions made by the Board of Management relating to the retention/discharge of children already in the language classes and decisions made by the board relating to all new applicants including candidates who were eligible but were not offered places.
Queries and Appeals:
Where a parent/guardian has a query in relation to the procedures for enrolment, the parent/guardian should contact the school Principal. If necessary, a meeting will be arranged between the parent/guardian and members of the Advisory Committee as appropriate.
According to Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, a parent/guardian may appeal a decision by a Board of Management not to enrol a child. Parents are informed of this information if their child is not offered a place in the Language Class. The appeal is made in writing to: General Secretary, Appeals Administration Unit, Department of Education and Skills. The appeal must be made within 42 calendar days from the date of the original letter informing them of the decision.
Discharge Criteria and Procedures:
- Children are initially offered a year’s placement; the recommended maximum length of stay is two years. For each child the first term is considered a trial period. Subsequent to this, or at any time during the school year any child considered inappropriately placed will be withdrawn at the discretion of the School’s Board of Management
- If it is felt that a child requires a third year the child is re-rated at the Admissions Committee Meeting.
- Emotional and behavioural disorders, and hearing impairment are not considered to be primary causes of language disorder. In instances where these emerge to be the prominent difficulties, transfer or discharge will be recommended.
- In some circumstances, involvement from other professions such as Psychology, Occupational Therapy and Child and Family Services may be sought. This will be done in consultation with parents.
- All parents are written to, prior to the Discharge Committee meeting in March advising them that their child’s placement is under review. Each child’s placement in the Language Class is reviewed carefully by the committee at this time to determine whether or not the child will benefit from an additional year in the Language Class or should return to a mainstream setting.
- Where a child requires a second year in the Junior or Senior Language Class the teacher and therapist agree to this recommendation. This decision is ratified by the Advisory Committee and the parents are informed in writing.
- After one year, where a child is transferring to the Senior Language Class from the Junior Language Class, the teachers and the therapists involved agree on the recommendation.
- The decision to discharge a pupil from the Junior or Senior language Class is arrived at by consensus. It occurs when:
- a) The child has developed the necessary language and learning skills required to progress successfully within a mainstream class.
- b) The Language Class placement is no longer indicated as appropriate even though the pupil may have special education needs and require alternative educational provision.
- c) The child’s primary need is no longer Speech and Language.
10.The whole Committee is involved in the decisions regarding discharge.
In exceptional circumstances, the Principal of the school, who is also the
Chairperson of the Committee and the Senior Language Therapy Manager will
make a decision.
Once the decision of discharge has been made the following steps are taken:
- The Principal informs the parents/guardians in writing of the decision to
discharge the pupils. She will also advise them that they are now obliged
to procure a school place for their child even if the child has come from a base
school. At this point also the Principal will advise the parents to inform the
school that the pupils may be eligible for resource hours and appropriate
application should be made.
- The child is referred back to speech and language services if required.
- Parental permission is sought for the Principal of Presentation Primary School
to contact the Principal of the pupil’s new school, so as to establish close links
as early as possible between the two schools and the staff involved.
Permission is also sought so that end of year reports, test scores, speech and
language therapy reports can be forwarded to the next school. It is the
parents’ responsibility to provide the school with a Psychological Assessment.
An explanatory information leaflet will be sent to the new school outlining
the objectives and the work of the language classes.
Role of Language Class Teachers:
The language class teacher is a member of the Advisory Committee and attend s the admissions and discharge meetings. She monitors and reports on the progress of pupils attending the language unit. She assesses each child’s personal, social and academic needs, and in consultation with the child’s parent/guardian and speech and language therapist, devises an individual education plan (IEP). The teacher ensures that the child follows the regular primary school curriculum taking into account the child’s speech and language abilities and the goals of the speech and language therapist.
Role of School Principal:
The Principal represents the Board of Management on the Advisory Committee. She is responsible for the day to day management of the classes and the support of children, staff and parents/guardians. She applies to the SENO for special needs assistant support, transport and assistive technology (if required). She also informs the SENO about language class enrolments, retention and discharges. She liaises with the HSE in relation to the management of the language classes and consults with the NEPS psychologist as necessary. The Principal also liaises with relevant school principals at times of intake and discharge.
Role of Speech and Language Therapist:
The Language Class Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) are members of the Advisory Committee and provide professional opinions on the suitability, eligibility and prioritisation of referrals to the Language Class/es. The SLT provides support and advice to SLT’s involved in the referral process to the Language Class/es. The SLT provides intervention for the communication needs of children attending the SSLD classes. This includes reviewing existing reports, setting and targeting current therapy goals in conjunction with teachers and parents, working closely with education staff regarding speech and language performance in classroom and providing training on speech and language intervention for education staff when necessary.
Role of Speech and Language Therapy Manager:
The role of the Speech and Language Therapy Manager is to attend the Advisory Committee Meetings and provide advice and support to S.L.T.’s involved in the referral process to the Language Classes. She provides professional opinions with regard to suitability, eligibility, and prioritisation of referrals. The Manager overseas the speech and language therapy service provision to the language classes and liaises with the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists on any pertinent issues arising. (ref: Position paper on Specific Language Impairment in Children (IASLT 2007)).
Role of Parents
The Parents will make an application to the Board of Management of the school for a place in the Language Unit as appropriate.
They will provide the Principal with an up-to-date Speech and Language Report, a Psychological Assessment and completed teacher’s forms by 16th March.
They will stay in regular contact with the school and attend the required meetings.
They will have input into the IEP.
They will be asked to support the school in its work by ensuring their child’s attendance and punctuality.
They will be expected to support the child in doing the homework.
Parents are responsible for securing an alternative school placement once the child is discharged from the Unit.
Parents will also request the Principal of the returning school to submit an Applications for recourse hours to the NCSE.
Every effort will be made to maintain open communication between parents and the school. Regular contact will be maintained and parents may make an appointment at any time through the office to meet with the Principal/teachers/therapists and they will be facilitated. Two formal Parent/Teacher/Language Therapist meetings take place during the year. The Principal, Class Teachers and Speech and Language Therapists will maintain communication with the base school.
REVIEW AND RATIFICATION:
This policy was reviewed and ratified by the Advisory Committee and the School Board of Management in September 2014. The policy will be reviewed annually.
Signed on behalf of the Presentation Primary School Board of Management.
Chairperson of the Board of Management Date
Application Form: Speech and Language Class
Name of child: _____________________________ Date of Birth: ____________
Nationality: _________________________ First Language: ____________________
Contact phone no. ___________________
Name of school child is attending: _________________________________________
School Address: ________________________________________________________
School Phone No.: ___________________ School Principal: ____________________
Current Class: ______________________ Class Teacher: ______________________
Speech & Language Therapist: ____________________________________________
I wish to apply for a place in the Presentation Primary School Speech and Language Class for September ____________.
I understand that I must submit a Speech and Language Report, a Psychological Report and a Class Teacher’s Report before mid March.
Speech and Language Report
Class Teacher’s Report
Copy of child’s Birth Certificate