IEPs – Advice to members

Tuesday 18 December 2018

The ASTI is committed to the provision of equality of opportunity for students with special educational needs. ASTI members have a long and proud track record of providing quality and inclusive learning experiences for all students in their classrooms.*

The Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act, 2004 includes a requirement for schools to provide an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for students with special needs. However, this section of the EPSEN Act has not been commenced, as was recently confirmed by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh in a statement to the Dáil: “There is currently not a statutory requirement for schools to provide a mandatory Individual Education Plan for children with special needs” (see here for full statement ).

In view of the fact that IEPs have not commenced under the EPSEN Act, ASTI members are advised not to implement** IEPs or equivalents (such as Student Support Files, etc.).

The ASTI is extremely concerned that in the context of insufficient resourcing and the lack of a sustainable model for the delivery of all aspects of the EPSEN Act, Circular 0014/ 2017 and the accompanying “Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools Supporting Students with Special Education Needs” effectively seek to introduce IEPs or equivalents.

The ASTI rejects the imposition of a special education needs model which takes no account of the time, workload and practical implications for teachers and schools. In particular, the ASTI is concerned that:

  • Teachers’ professionalism and commitment to inclusive education is not being supported by the necessary resources, training and allocation of time for collaboration.
  • Requiring subject teachers to collaborate with parents, external agencies and a significant number of teachers for each student with a special education need is impractical.
  • The training is inadequate to ensure appropriate levels of specialist knowledge in schools in the area of special needs education.
  • Special Education Needs (SEN) Co-ordinators are being given a near impossible task and face excessive demands.
  • SEN Co-ordinators/ SEN teachers are not being given adequate time to co-ordinate education planning for students with special education needs.
  • The wider issue of teacher workload and initiative overload is not being addressed.


The ASTI is available to advise and support any ASTI member in relation to this issue.

Inspectorate

In advance of a new model of inspection in the area of special needs education, which is being implemented from January 2019, the Inspectorate has been made aware of the ASTI’s advice to members.

*It is estimated that approximately 25% of students have special education needs.

** While members are being advised not to create or devise IEPs or equivalents, existing arrangements for the education of students with special education needs will not be impacted by this.