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Understanding the Roles of ....





National Council for Special Education (NCSE)



What is the function of the National Council for Special Education?


The National Council for Special Education was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children.

The NCSE is responsible through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers for allocating resource hours and special needs assistants to support children with special needs.


To find out more about the functions of the NCSE
please click here.


Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO)



What is the role of a Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO)?



SENOs are appointed by the NCSE to provide a direct local service to the parents of children with special educational needs and to schools within geographical areas.

This involves identifying the needs of children and deciding on the level of resources schools require to provide them with an appropriate education service.




A SENO deals with applications for additional teaching and Special Needs Assistant support for children with special educational needs from all schools. The SENO also assists with applications for transport and Assistive Technology.

A SENO can advise schools and parents on the facilities, services, and resources available to assist children with Special Educational Needs.



To find out which SENO covers your area please click here.

What should I do if I do not have a SENO and the area is vacant?


Each area is assigned a Senior SENO who is responsible for their area. You should contact the Senior SENO who will attend to any issues in a vacant area.

To find out which SENO covers your area please click here.

Does a SENO provide psychological reports?


The SENO does not provide psychological reports. The SENO will assist in arranging for assessments where difficulties are encountered. You can find a list of warning signs which may lead to the need for assessment here.

Where can I get an assessment?


The school principal should be approached on this as the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides for the assessment of school going children. Each school is assigned a psychologist by NEPS.



Where can I get the application forms for resources?


An application form can be downloaded from the NCSE website. Click here.

How do I find the names of special schools in a particular area?


Detailed lists of all schools including special schools can be obtained from the Department of Education and Skills website, www.education.ie or you can check out our list of special schools here


Special Needs Assistants (SNA)



What is a Special Needs Assistant? (SNA)


In general terms the SNA acts in a care and support role that is non-teaching in nature and works under the guidance and supervision of the principal and/or class teacher.

The role and duties of the SNA are more clearly defined in DES Circular 10/76 and Circular 07/02.

Who employs and pays a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)?


An individual school recruits and employs an SNA. The Department of Education and Skills remunerates SNAs.



What are the different categories of disabilities and how do I find out more about them?


Appendix 1 of Circular Sp Ed 02/05 lists the categories of disabilities which qualify for resources and the number of hours resource teaching support entitled to.


Individual Education (IEP)



What is an Individual Education (IEP) plan?

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written document usually prepared by the assigned SENO for a named student which specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time and the teaching strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve those goals.

You can read the Guidelines on the Individual Education Plan Process here.


Special Education Support Service (SESS)



What is the Role of the SESS?

The role of the Special Education Support Service (SESS) is to enhance the quality of learning and teaching in relation to special educational provision.


The service co-ordinates, develops and delivers a range of professional development initiatives and support structures for school personnel working with students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, special schools and special classes. The SESS operates under the remit of the Teacher Education Section (TES) of the Department of Education and Skills.

What is the Aim of the SESS?


The aim of the service, is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, with particular reference to special educational provision. In this regard, the SESS aims to provide a quality service that is inclusive, promotes collaboration and co-operation and provides for equality of access.

How does the SESS work?


The SESS facilitates a partnership approach involving support teams of practising teachers, Education Centres, the Inspectorate, National Educational Psychological Service, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the National Council for Special Education, Third Level Colleges, Health Board Personnel, Teacher Unions and other relevant bodies and services. In a similar spirit of partnership the SESS maximises the benefits of North-South co-operation.

What is the Inclusion Support Service (ISS)?


The Inclusion Support Service incorporates the following three existing services: