Frequently Asked Questions

What is the function of the National Council for Special Education?

The National Council for Special Education was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children. The NCSE is responsible through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers for allocating resource hours and special needs assistants to support children with special needs.

To find out more about the functions of the NCSE please click here.

Is the Council completely independent of the Department of Education and Skills?

The Council is an independent body established under statutory legislation (the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004). The Council acts in accordance with Department of Education and Skills policy in relation to the level of resources and the nature of services to be provided. The Council will, however, carry out fully independent research and provide advice to the minister on how best to provide an effective special education service for children with disabilities with special educational needs.

What is the role of a Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO)?

SENOs are appointed by the NCSE to provide a direct local service to the parents of children with special educational needs and to schools within geographical areas.

This involves identifying the needs of children and deciding on the level of resources schools require to provide them with an appropriate education service.

A SENO deals with applications for additional teaching and Special Needs Assistant support for children with special educational needs from all schools. The SENO also assists with applications for transport and Assistive Technology. A SENO can advise schools and parents on the facilities, services, and resources available to assist children with Special Educational Needs.

To find out which SENO covers your area please click here.

What should I do if I do not have a SENO and the area is vacant?

Each area is assigned a Senior SENO who is responsible for their area. You should contact the Senior SENO who will attend to any issues in a vacant area.

To find out which Senior SENO covers your area please contact the NCSE.

Does a SENO provide psychological reports?

The SENO does not provide psychological reports. The SENO will assist in arranging for assessments where difficulties are encountered.

Where can I get an assessment?

The school principal should be approached on this as the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides for the assessment of school going children. Each school is assigned a psychologist by NEPS.

Where can I get the application forms for resources?

An application form can be downloaded from the website. Click here.

How do I find the names of special schools in a particular area?

Detailed lists of all schools including special schools can be obtained from the Department of Education and Skills website, www.education.ie

What is a Special Needs Assistant? (SNA)

In general terms the SNA acts in a care and support role that is non-teaching in nature and works under the guidance and supervision of the principal and/or class teacher. The role and duties of the SNA are more clearly defined in DES Circular 10/76 and Circular 07/02.

Who employs and pays a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)?

An individual school recruits and employs an SNA. The Department of Education and Skills remunerates SNAs.

What are the different categories of disabilities and how do I find out more about them?

Appendix 1 of Circular Sp Ed 02/05 lists the categories of disabilities which qualify for resources and the number of hours resource teaching support entitled to.

What is an Individual Education (IEP) plan?

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written document prepared for a named student which specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time and the teaching strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve those goals.

What elements of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004 have been implemented?

The following sections of the EPSEN Act have been commenced:

Section 1 Interpretation of the Act
Section 2 The right to be educated in an inclusive environment
Section 14(1)(a) Duties of Schools
Section 14(1)(c)
Section 14(2) to 14(4) Duties of Schools
Sections 19 to 37 Establishment of the NCSE
Sections 40 to 53 Establishment of the NCSE

To find out more about IEPs and the IEP process please click here.