Mainstream School


The majority of children with special needs are supported in mainstream school settings where they may qualify for extra learning support and have access to a Special Needs Assistant.


The NCSE has a countrywide network of SENOs who allocate additional resources to schools.


Once you contact a school to enroll your child with special needs, the school may request additional information such as professional reports which will accompany an application for extra resources. It is the responsibility of the school to make an application to the NCSE for supports such as Special Needs Assistants.


The new special education teacher allocation model which will come into effect from September 2017 will allocate teachers to schools on the basis of the profiled educational needs of each school. 

The new Resource Allocation Model benefits are that:

  • Barriers to accessing resources will be removed and children who need support can have that support provided immediately rather than having to wait for a diagnosis.
  • Resources will be linked with need, and children will not be unnecessarily, or inappropriately, labelled in order to access resources
  • Resources will be linked closely with the learning needs of children
  • It will ensure that children with special educational needs are properly integrated into the school
  • Schools will be able to allocate resources to pupils taking into account their individual learning needs as opposed to requiring a particular diagnosis of disability.
  • It will support inclusion and early intervention

The decision to implement this new allocation model, from next September follows the successful piloting of the model in 47 schools over the course of the 2015/16 school year. The Inspectorate of the Department of Education completed a review of the Pilot. The review concluded that:

  • The new model has been positively received by schools and parents
  • Schools welcome the move away from the unnecessary labelling of children in order to secure resources
  • Schools also welcomed that they no longer need to wait for diagnosis and that this facilitates intervention at an earlier stage based on the schools identification of need
  • In addition, schools indicated a belief that they were well supported in meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs
  • Most schools acknowledged that over the course of the pilot their whole school approaches had improved and that they were targeting students more effectively
  • Schools reported improvements in their planning for students, better collaboration between classroom and support teachers and better tracking of student progress


The allocation of additional teaching supports to schools be in future based on two components:

A. School educational profile component comprising elements of complex needs, standardised test scores, and social context and gender; and

B. Baseline component provided to every mainstream school to support inclusion, prevention of learning difficulties and early intervention.

The Department, in conjunction with the Educational Research Centre (ERC) and the NCSE, has developed profiles for all primary and post primary schools for the 2017/18 school year.

– See more at:

The role of resource teachers is to provide additional support for the educational needs of children with special educational needs. This is separate from the role of Special Needs Assistants who are responsible for supporting the care needs of the child,

– See more at:

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