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School Support Plus

School Support Plus

The School Support Plus process will generally involve external professionals and support services in a more detailed problem solving process to help the pupil. School support plus applies to those pupils whose needs are enduring and/or severe and complex and whose progress is considered inadequate despite carefully planned and reviewed interventions detailed in Classroom Support and/ or School Support plans.

Some students who have their needs met through the School Support Plus process may also fall under the terms of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) 2004. Equally, some students at this level, will not necessarily be covered by the terms of EPSEN, but will benefit from School Support Plus level of intervention.This group may include pupils with High Incidence and Low Incidence Disabilities as defined by the Department of Education and Science in Special Education Circular 09/04.

Pupils needing support at this level will have their needs and interventions detailed and monitored through an Individual Education Plan.

The Process

A  The Starting Point

The School Support Plus process will be initiated if, in reviewing the School Support Plan, it is agreed that the pupil is not making adequate progress.

The NCSE Guidelines on the IEP Process provide examples of best practice for planning and review purposes within the School Support Plus process.The checklists and templates supporting the Classroom and School Support processes may also be used as part of the process of IEP development and information gathered through these processes will contribute to the School Support plus problem solving process.

Because this process may often lead to more intrusive and individualised assessment and provision for a pupil it is important to consider carefully the presenting problem and effectiveness of intervention to date before embarking on this process.The following questions may be considered:


Is there evidence to suggest that the pupil:

  • Has needs which are causing significant barriers to learning and/or impeding the development of social relationships?
  • Is not making adequate progress despite the planned support already provided?

Were the teaching and/or behavioural interventions:

  • Based on clear evidence from assessment?
  • Well planned and given sufficient time to work?

The Classroom Support and School Support checklists and plans previously completed for the pupil should help in considering these questions.

  • How do they feel about the interventions which have been tried?
  • Are they in agreement with initiating this process?
The Pupil

Have the pupils views been sought (in an age/developmental stage appropriate manner) about

  • The interventions and supports tried?
  • Their perception of problem?
  • Have all teachers working with the pupil been consulted?
  • What are their views about the effectiveness of the interventions and supports already provided?
External Professionals
  • Has the advice of external professionals been sought regarding interventions at Classroom and School Support level or in relation to initiating this process?


B  Information Gathering and Assessment within the School Support Plus Process

One teacher will usually take on a co-ordinating role for planning at the School Support Plus level of support. The co-ordinating teacher may be the learning support / resource teacher, or the pupil s class teacher.

The co-ordinating teacher will support the class teacher and any other supporting teachers in gathering further information to inform the assessment process which may involve, as appropriate, external professionals. This co-ordinating teacher will work closely with the pupil s teachers and parents in considering:

  • Information previously gathered and reviews of Classroom and School Support Plans
  • Pupil s response to earlier interventions
  • Information regarding involvement of outside agencies
  • Areas where more detailed school based assessment may be needed
  • The involvement of external professionals

(see section 2.1 of the NCSE guidelines on the IEP process for suggested checklists for gathering information).

Following the gathering of information, the co-ordinating teacher may, with parental consent, request the involvement of appropriate external professionals (e.g. Visiting Teachers, Educational Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Occupational Therapists, or Speech and Language Therapists).

Educational Psychologists can play a key role in the problem solving process at this level. NEPS psychologists work in collaboration with teachers and parents in clarifying problems, through consultation and further joint assessment. Based on the information gathered they collaborate with teachers in planning and monitoring interventions which take account of the pupil’s strengths and address the identified needs.

C  Planning and Intervention

An Individual Education Plan is drawn up based on the information gathered.

The individual education plan should describe:

  • The nature and degree of the pupil s abilities, skills and talents
  • The nature and degree of the pupil s special educational needs and how those needs affect his/her educational development
  • The present level of educational performance of the pupil
  • The special educational needs of the pupil
  • The special education and related support services to be provided to the pupil to enable the pupil to benefit from education (and related services to be provided to the pupil to enable the pupil to effectively make the transition from pre-school education to primary school education) including:
    • Strategies for supporting the pupil s progress and inclusion in the classroom setting (classroom support)
    • Individual and/or small group/special class interventions/programmes
    • Specific methodologies/programmes to be implemented
    • Specific equipment/materials and/or IT supports if required to support learning and access to the curriculum
    • Support required from a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) if appropriate
  • The goals which the pupil is to achieve over a period not exceeding 12 months e.g.:
    • The pupil s priority learning needs
    • Long and short term targets to be achieved
  • Monitoring and review arrangements to be put in place

      (See NCSE Guidelines on the IEP process)

Professionals external to school may be involved in working with the pupil directly or they may act in an advisory capacity supporting the class teacher and learning support / resource teacher in implementing the plan.

The pupil s parents and in an age-appropriate manner, the pupil, should be involved in the development, implementation and review of the Individual Education Plan.

When the EPSEN act 2004 is fully implemented the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) will be consulted in relation to the preparation of the IEP for pupils who come under the terms of the Act and will receive a copy of the plan.

see sample I.E.P. Planning Sheet and sample Individual Education Plan in the Resource Pack (pgs23&24).


D  The Review Process

The School Support Plus co-ordinating teacher should organise the review process. Parents should be invited to contribute to this review. Outside professionals and the area SENO should be involved as appropriate or necessary.

The review process should focus on:

  • Progress towards targets made by the pupil
  • Any new information and/or assessment results
  • The effectiveness of the strategies/methodologies used
  • The effectiveness of the materials/equipment provided
  • The effectiveness of the supports(individual, group, class) provided
  • Future action

      see I.E.P. Review sheet in the Resource Pack (pg25).

The outcomes of the review process may be:


If the pupil s progress has been satisfactory, an updated IEP may be drawn up. If the IEP is considered to need adjustment, a new, or adapted, plan should be drawn up. If the pupil s progress remains satisfactory following review all concerned may decide to increase gradually the periods between reviews.


If the pupil s progress continues to be satisfactory all concerned may decide that the pupil no longer needs the intensive level of support being provided and would be able to cope with the greater part of classroom tasks with some additional support. In this case it may be decided that the pupil s needs may be met by having a School Support Plan in place.

Roles and Responsibilities 


The class teacher contributes to assessment and planning and remains responsible for working with the pupil in the classroom and providing/ensuring classroom supports.


Once the process is initiated the co-ordinating teacher takes on the lead responsibility for the School Support Plus process.

This will normally involve:

  • Reviewing the outcomes of interventions detailed in the Classroom and School Support Plans.
  • Co-ordinating the assessment of the pupil s learning/social, emotional and behavioural difficulty and identification of
  • special educational needs involving, as appropriate, and with parental consent, relevant external agencies in the process.
  • Coordinating the development of the Individual Education Plan.
  • Liaising with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENO) as appropriate.
  • Monitoring and supporting interventions and reviewing the Individual Education Plan, working alongside the class teacher, support teachers, external professionals and involving the pupil s parents.

Learning support / resource and/or resource teachers will usually be involved in both the assessment and intervention process.They may provide additional support either on a withdrawal basis or through class support. At this level it is possible that there will be more than one supporting teacher involved with the pupil.


Having obtained parental consent, the principal records the initiation of the School Support Plus process. In line with best practice the principal should ensure that a file is maintained containing records in relation to consent for the involvement of external professionals, the assessment process, interventions, reviews and records of earlier school and classroom support processes.

When the EPSEN Act (2004) is fully implemented, it states that "the principal shall … cause a plan to be prepared" for those pupils who meet the terms of Section 3 of the act

Other professionals such as Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists and Visiting Teachers may be involved in providing advice through a range of direct and indirect assessment approaches and in providing support to individual pupils and/or their teachers, including contributing to intervention plans for individual pupils.

School Support Plus Process