24 November, 2017 - Extra support to DEIS schools for Student Support Teams – Minister Bruton

Minister Bruton today announced plans to extend the Student Support Team Pilot to a further 20 post primary DEIS schools in Dublin, Cork and Clare.

Student support teams are shown to significantly improve the structures in place within a school to support student wellbeing.

The Student Support Team pilot was a 3 year project (2014-2017) of 17 schools which sought to see how the Department could better support student support teams in schools. The 17 schools were provided with a range of additional supports during the pilot, such as additional teacher training, a dedicated project link person and a student support team planning tool (which was improved upon during the course of the pilot). Regular newsletters were also published sharing the learning from the project across the schools.

Key outcomes of the pilot were:

  • The development of a Student Support Team best practice guide, which was shown to greatly help schools in setting up highly effective Student Support Teams.
  • Communication with parents was enhanced
  • Schools reported being better able to support student wellbeing at system and individual levels
  • Schools reported being better able to support students with specific needs
  • Schools reported being better informed and able to seek help appropriately from external support services and agencies, such as CAMHS or other HSE services.

The project will now be extended to a further 20 DEIS schools, fulfilling a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which seeks to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe by 2026.

The aim of the extension of the project is to finalise the development and cost of a sustainable training programme for effective Student Support Teams which can be rolled out to all post-primary schools.

The long term objective of the project is that all post-primary schools will have effective systems of student support in place and have access to a model of training and support for the development and maintenance of these teams. 

It is worth noting that all post-primary schools already have student support teams and a variety of practice exists with regard to role, composition and operation. This pilot project is intended to allow the Department understand how best it can assist schools in the development, review and maintenance of such teams.

One of the participating schools reported that the Student Support Team project has helped them to help many students to complete post-primary school and that many students who could have slipped ‘under the radar’ were supported through difficulties as a result of having a better system in place. 

Welcoming the announcement, Minister Bruton said, “I’m pleased to announce that the Student Support Team pilot will be extended to a further 20 DEIS schools. This extension will allow us to refine the tools and supports we put in place for schools reviewing or developing teams. The long-term goal is that every post primary school will have such an effective team in place.  Ensuring the wellbeing of our children is a key priority of mine as Minister. If we want to be the best in Europe, we must be innovative and constantly improve upon our policies. It is very encouraging to see this work and I look forward to seeing the results of this further trial in the academic year 2018-19.’

Notes to Editors

The Student Support Team project has been led by NEPS in collaboration with the psychological service of the City of Dublin Education and Training Board and the National Behaviour Support Service. 

What schools are participating in the extension of the pilot?

The participating schools are in the process of being identified and will be approached in the coming weeks. 

How Student Support Teams work

All post primary schools have forms of support in place for addressing students’ wellbeing and welfare. The Student Support Team in an effective and efficient way for post primary schools to support students in an integrated way.  The student support team has a broad remit and includes: 

  • coordinating  the support  for students in the school
  • facilitating links to parents, the community and other non-school support services
  • enabling  students with support needs to access a full education  and assisting  staff to support  those students effectively
  • ensuring  all staff members are briefed about policies and procedures relating to student wellbeing and support
  • advising school management on the development and review of effective student support policies and structures

Teams are made up of the school’s guidance counsellor, a representative from the school’s management team, special needs coordinator, year heads/class tutors and SPHE coordinator.  In addition, the team may also include other key members of staff such as home school community liaison teacher, parents or students, staff members with specialist roles and outside professionals who may also attend meetings, as needed.

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