Learning Support Activities

The activities of the learning support teacher include both teaching and non-teaching duties. According to the Learning-Support Guidelines (2000) “The particular balance that the learning-support teacher achieves between supplementary teaching and consultative activities will depend on the specific circumstances of the school” (p. 32). This balance will be decided upon by the principal, following consultation with the Learning Support Team. As noted below, these activities may be subject to amendment from time to time, dependant on the needs of the school and the LS caseloads therein.

The learning-support teacher’s activities should include, where possible:

  • Assisting in the implementation of a broad range of whole-school strategies designed to enhance early learning and to prevent learning difficulties.
  • Development of an Individual Profile and Learning Programme and/or Group Educational Profile for each pupil or group of pupils who is selected for supplementary teaching, in consultation with class teachers and parents.
  • Maintaining a weekly planning and progress record for each individual or group of pupils in receipt of learning support.
  • Delivering early intervention programmes and providing supplementary teaching in English and / or Mathematics to pupils in the junior section of the school (Senior Infants to 1st Class).
  • Providing teaching in English and / or Mathematics to pupils in the senior section of the school who experience low achievement and / or learning difficulties.
  • Co-ordinating the implementation of whole-school procedures for the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, giving due consideration to:

-The selection criteria specified in this Learning-Support Policy

-Teachers’ professional observations

-Input from parents.

  • Contributing to the development of policy on Learning-Support at the whole school level.
  • Providing advice to the Class Teacher (if requested) about pupils who are experiencing learning difficulties in such areas as:

-Individual pupil assessment

-Programme planning

-Curriculum differentiation

-Approaches to language development

-Approaches to reading

-Approaches to spelling

-Approaches to writing

-Approaches to Mathematics

  • Contributing at the school level to decision making regarding the purchase of learning resources, books and materials to be made available to pupils with learning difficulties in their mainstream classrooms and in the learning-support teacher’s room.
  • Performing a defined role in co-ordinating the provision of special needs and learning-support services in the school, as requested and time permitting.
  • Liaising with external agencies such as educational psychologists, speech and Language therapists etc… to arrange assessments and special provision for pupils with special needs.
  • Collaborate with the principal/deputy- principal and meet with him / her at least once each school term to discuss issues relating to the development and implementation of the school plan on learning-support, and to the provision of Learning-Support.
  • The learning-support teacher should work closely with class teachers to implement school policies on preventing learning difficulties, screening pupils for learning difficulties, interpreting the outcomes of diagnostic assessments and providing supplementary teaching and other forms of learning-support, where it is deemed necessary.
  • The learning-support teacher plays an important role in co-ordinating the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching.

The learning-support teacher should:

-Co-ordinate the administration by class teachers of a whole-school screening programme to identify pupils with very low and very high achievement and/or learning difficulties in English and Mathematics

-Consult with class teachers on the identification of pupils who may need diagnostic assessment, taking into account the pupils’ scores on an appropriate standardised screening measure, agreed criteria for identifying pupils, teachers’ own views of the pupils’ difficulties and needs and the number of pupils to whom learning-support can be provided

-Carry out a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of each pupil who has been identified as experiencing low achievement and / or learning difficulties and, in consultation with the class teacher and parents, identify the type and level of learning-support that is needed to meet the pupil’s needs.

  • In addition to providing supplementary teaching to pupils, the learning-support teacher is involved in administering a range of formal and informal assessments and in maintaining records of the outcomes of those assessments. The learning-support teacher should:

-Conduct an initial diagnostic assessment of each pupil who has been identified as having low achievement and / or a learning difficulty, based on results of an appropriate screening measure and record the findings of the assessment in the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme.

-Monitor the ongoing progress of each pupil in receipt of supplementary teaching in relation to the attainment of agreed learning targets and short-term objectives that arise from them, and record the observations in the Weekly Planning and Progress Record. ----Review the progress of each pupil at the end of the learning-support instructional term and record it on the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme.

Prevention Strategies.

Our strategies for preventing learning difficulties include:

-The development of agreed approaches to the teaching of English and Mathematics in order to ensure progression and continuity from class to class.

-Provision of additional support in language development and relevant early literacy and mathematical skills to pupils who need it.

-Implementation of paired reading programmes involving adults/parents and pupils in the school.

-Ongoing structured observation and assessment of the language, literacy and numeracy skills of pupils in the infant classes to facilitate early identification of possible learning difficulties.

-Close collaboration and consultation between the Infant teacher and the Learning-support teacher.

Early Intervention Programmes.

  • Early intervention is a vital component of the learning-support provision in Willow Park Junior School. Early intervention programmes may be provided by the class teacher and / or by the learning-support teacher.
  • Close collaboration and consultation between the class teachers and the learning-support teacher, will identify pupils who may be in need of early intervention. Teacher observation and professional opinion will be given due consideration and respect in the selection of pupils for early intervention programmes.
  • Intensive early intervention programmes in the early primary classes can be an effective response to meeting the needs of children following formal screening through the ELT, MIST test. These programmes will:

-Be set within a specific time frame (13-20 weeks)

-Be based on a shared expectation of success by everyone involved

-Involve small group teaching or one-to-one teaching where small group teaching has not been effective

-Include a strong focus on oral language, laying the foundation for meaningful reading activities and further development of language and comprehension skills

-Emphasise the development of phonemic awareness and a range of other word identification skills

-Engage the pupils in frequent supervised oral and silent reading of texts at appropriate levels of difficulty and monitor their comprehension

-Stress the interconnected nature of listening, speaking, reading and writing

-Focus on language development in mathematics, and in the development of mathematical procedure and concepts where caseloads allow.

Screening, Assessment, Caseload, Selection, Permissions and Review.

Learning Support will carry out initial screening tests for all new entrants each year. Class teachers will carry out the class screening tests. Class teachers will correct and record results for Micra-T, Drumcondra, SWST, ELT and MIST standardised tests.

Diagnostic Assessment:

The learning-support teacher will discuss recorded results with the teachers and carry out further screening tests and / or diagnostic assessments where it is deemed necessary and with parental permission.

 Selection Criteria*:

  • Learning-support teacher will accommodate children scoring up to the 20th percentile in Literacy Standardised testing.*
  • Learning-support teachers will accommodate in supplementary teaching pupils with assessed low incidence conditions as required.
  • Learning-support teachers will accommodate children who have been assessed by a psychologist as having a high incidence learning difficulty and who are not managing in class.          
  • Learning-support teachers will accommodate children up to the 20th percentile in Mathematics*
  • Learning-support teachers will accommodate children with learning difficulties including those pupils with speech and language difficulties, children with social or emotional difficulties, and pupils with mild co-ordination or attention control difficulties*
  • Early intervention in English Literacy will take place from the first term in Senior-infants and 1st Class.
  • Supplementary teaching post-MIST screening in Senior Infants (second term of academic year).

Parental Permissions.

 Parental permissions are required for children to attend learning-support. This will include consent to allow Learning-support teacher to undertake individual diagnostic testing. Initially permission will be sought through the class teacher.

Continuing and Discontinuing Supplementary Teaching.

A meeting will be held at the end of each term with the parents in cases where supplementary teaching is to be commenced or continued to discuss the learning targets and activities in the pupil’s Individual Profile and Learning Programme. Further meetings may take place at the request of the Learning-support teacher and/or parents.

Supplementary teaching will normally be discontinued where the targets have been met and the pupil (on assessment) is performing above the percentile laid down in the criteria for receiving learning-support.

The school may decide to discontinue supplementary teaching with some pupils (who have made satisfactory progress), in order for the learning-support teacher to provide early intervention / prevention for Senior Infants, after the analysis of the MIST screening test results. Due consideration will be given to the overall needs of the school and all of its pupils.

Monitoring Progress.

Monitoring the academic progress of the pupils in this school will be accomplished by:

-Ongoing structured observation and assessment of the language, literacy and numeracy skills of the pupils in the infant classes to facilitate early identification of possible learning difficulties by the class teacher.

-Formal and informal testing and observation of work by the class teacher.

-Implementing the school policies on screening and the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching in English and / or in Mathematics by administering and scoring appropriate measures:

-For Senior Infant pupils: MIST each year late in term 1

-For 1st to 6th Class pupils: Micra-T/Drumcondra Reading and Single Word Spelling Test  each year in October and Drumcondra Maths each year in May.

-Standardised and diagnostic testing by the learning-support teacher/resource teacher.

-Record keeping (Children have a file where records, test results and assessments are kept in a secure filing cabinet).

-Non-academic progress of pupils in this school will be reviewed informally, for example under the headings of improvements in the pupil’s self-esteem; school attendance; attitude to learning; attitude to school and general behaviour.

 Liaising with Parents.

Communication with Parents:

Effective communication with parents is critically important to the success of a learning-support programme.

  • Teachers will take every opportunity to make parents familiar with the purpose and procedures of the school’s learning-support team.
  • Learning Support teachers will be available to attend Dean’s meetings as required.
  • Parents will be encouraged to support their child’s learning through:
  • Developing children’s oral language through discussion
  • Motivating children to read more
  • Creating a home environment where literacy can thrive
  • Selecting books that interest children
  • Counting, measuring and other activities involving number.


*The above outline is subject to amendment, depending on the needs of the school and the LS caseloads therein.