Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, today announced a consultation with education stakeholders, including disability groups and parents on the draft Inter Agency Good Practice Guidelines for schools on Supporting Students with Autism.
The consultation seeks responses from these education stakeholders on the draft Good Practice Guidelines which have been developed as a resource to support teachers, school staff and school leaders in meeting the needs of all students with autism across the continuum of provision (i.e. mainstream, special classes and special school settings).
This draft is the output of a Working Group set up by the Department to support the implementation of a number of recommendations in the NCSE policy advice on Supporting Students with Autism in schools (2016).
Membership of the Working Group includes the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), the Inspectorate, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the Middletown Centre for Autism, the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and the special education section of the Department of Education.
Minister Madigan said: “This guidance aims to further enhance the skills, knowledge and understanding our teachers, school staff and school leaders in supporting the wellbeing, learning and participation of students with autism which is a critical factor in determining educational outcomes for students with autism.
“I am committed to achieving this through continuous engagement and consultation with the education partners and the special needs community – and am interested in hearing their views on this draft.
“Schools will be supported to implement the guidance and resources over the next number of years.”
The Good Practice Guidelines provide information and resources across eight key areas of practice to support the wellbeing, learning and participation of students with autism.
- Learning and Environment
- Language and Commination
- Social Development
- Emotional Development
- Sensory Processing
- Adaptive Functioning and Life Skills
- Academic Development
- Behavioural Development
The guidelines also include a closer look at specific areas of practice relating to anxiety, transitions, relationships and sexuality education, digital learning and assistive technology and professional learning. Indicators of effective practice are also provided which schools may draw on to enhance whole-school provision for students with autism.
The consultation with stakeholders will run for 3 weeks, until 12 November.
Following consideration of the feedback received, a support plan for the guidelines will be developed which will include resource materials, training and webinars.
It is intended that the guide will be available on line enabling schools to access specific sections/topics as needed.
The Minister of State concluded: “It is very important that schools and teachers are supported in this journey towards greater inclusion. The development of evidence based guidelines and supports is the first step but this has to be followed through with training and professional development for school communities. I look forward to seeing the fully developed guidelines early next year."