The Department has set out the Continuum of Support framework to assist schools in identifying and responding to students’ needs. This framework recognises that special educational needs occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe, and from transient to long term, and that students require different levels of support depending on their identified educational needs. Using this framework helps to ensure that interventions are incremental, moving from class-based interventions to more intensive and individualised support, and that they are informed by careful monitoring of progress.
The framework emphasises the importance of looking at a student’s needs in context, and provides useful resources to support this (for example, Learning Environment Checklist, Teacher Checklist for Whole-Class Structures and Supports). Many students will have their special educational needs identified prior to their transfer to post primary school. It is important for schools to gather information on students’ learning from primary schools and parents in order to plan provision and to ensure continuity and progression in the students’ education. A school may use its own assessment practices to provide further screening and diagnostic information to support the planning process for students with special educational needs.
The Continuum of Support provides a framework for schools to enable them to identify and respond to students’ needs in a flexible way. This process is also supported through engagement with external professionals, as required. The Continuum of Support suggests the following levels of support: