Reasonable Accommodations Certified Exams
RACE stands for Reasonable Accommodation in Certificate Examinations. The State Examinations Commission (SEC) operates the Reasonable Accommodation in Certificate Examinations (RACE) scheme. Under this scheme, pupils with permanent or long-term conditions, which will significantly impair their performance in state exams, may apply to the SEC for a reasonable accommodation(s) to be made to facilitate them taking the examinations.
These accommodations can include:
Exemption from certain parts of the exam
Arrangements to have question papers read to the student
Braille translation of question papers
Permission to record answers on tape recorder, typewriter or word-processor
Dictation of answers to a person acting as a scribe rather than to a tape recorder
Depending on the disability of a student, along with results of formal testing and information gathering by the school, an application is made by the RACE coordinator in the school to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to provide reasonable accommodations for a student. It is the State Examinations Commission that makes the decision to grant or refuse any accommodation and schools are not allowed to apply for an accommodation that they know you do not qualify for. More information for students and parents on RACE is available here.
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What is a special educational need?
Young people with special educational needs are young people first and have much in common with other people of the same age. There are many aspects to a young person’s development that make up the whole person, including – personality, the ability to communicate (verbal and non-verbal), resilience and strength, the ability to appreciate and enjoy life and the desire to learn. Each young person has individual strengths, personality, experiences and learning styles, so particular disabilities will impact differently on individual people. A young person’s special educational need should not define the whole person.
There are four different areas of disability:
learning disability or from any other condition that results in the child learning differently from a child without that condition.
It is also important to understand that a person can have a disability but not have any special educational needs arising from that disability which require additional supports in school.
How do I go about having my child formally assessed for a SEN?
If you suspect your child has a Specific Learning Difficulty (SLD), such as Dyslexia, you may wish to have them tested by an Educational Psychologist.
If you think your child may have a physical difficulty, such as Dyspraxia, you may wish to have them assessed by an Occupational Therapist (OT).
If Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or any other Emotional/Behavioural Disorder (EBD) is suspected you may wish to bring it to the attention of your GP who can refer you on to additional services such as the Lucena Clinic.
There are many associations connected to the various types of SEN. You may wish to contact the association affiliated with the suspected difficulty. You’ll find a comprehensive list of associations at the end of the FAQ section. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have produced a number of informative pamphlets for parents. Again, you will find links to all of them in the ‘Useful Websites’ section at the end of the FAQs.
Parents of any child born after 1st June 2002 may apply to the HSE for an Assessment of Need under the Disability Act, if they think that their child may have a disability. Following the assessment, parents will receive an Assessment Report stating their child’s needs, if any, and the services required to meet those needs. Where a need for supports is identified, a service statement is prepared which specifies the health services to be provided to the child, with reference to available resources.
What is inclusion?
Inclusive education means encouraging each young person to take part in the everyday activity of the school, and helping every young person to achieve the most from school. Inclusive education means ensuring that the system adjusts to meet the young person’s needs, rather than expecting young people to ‘fit’ into the system.
It is important to remember that inclusive education is not just about the particular school or class a young person attends. It is also about what goes on in that school or class. In both primary and post-primary mainstream schools, class or subject teachers have the primary responsibility for the educational progress of all pupils in their classes. This includes pupils with special educational needs. The DES provides additional learning support and resource teaching support to build on, and complement, the education delivered by the class teacher.
What is differentiation?
Mainstream class teachers cater for pupils with a wide range of abilities and needs who have a diverse range of personal/home experiences. Class or subject teachers have the primary responsibility for the educational progress of all pupils in their classes. This includes pupils with special educational needs. Pupils vary in their learning rates and styles. Differentiation is about matching teaching strategies, approaches and expectations to the range of experiences, abilities, needs and learning styles in a mainstream class. In other words, different teaching methods and approaches work with different pupils. Differentiation is an important means by which a teacher can show each pupil that they are respected and valued. The needs of the majority of pupils within a mainstream class can be met by differentiating teaching approaches for that class.
How is additional support provided?
All additional teaching support given to your child should build on and complement the support delivered by the class/subject teacher in the ordinary classroom situation. Additional support is delivered via CoTeaching, smaller group and one to one withdrawal, depending on the needs of the student. There is a move away from withdrawal to a more inclusive model where the majority of the needs of students with SEN are met alongside their peers in the classroom, in smaller groups and in a few cases, via one to one withdrawal. The 'Continuum of Support' pyramid below highlights this approach.
Effective additional teaching support can be provided to your child in a number of different ways including:
Your child is taught by the class teacher, as part of a small group, within the ordinary classroom
Your child is withdrawn for one to one teaching or small group teaching
Your child is part of a class where team teaching is taking place. (Team teaching is where the resource teacher or learning support teacher go into a class with the class teacher and share the planning and delivery of the class.)
The New Model of SEN Provision
How does the New Model of Support for students with SEN from September 2017 differ from the old model?
Previously, students with a diagnosis and professional reports were allocated individual resource hours by the NCSE through the SENO network. From now on The Department of Education and Skills allocates resources directly to schools who then allocate these resources flexibly to students according to their priority learning needs without the requirement for a diagnosis, professional report or disability labelling. However, in some cases, formal testing may still be required to ascertain the level of need and to procure recommendations from the relevant professional.
We wish to reassure that the needs of all our students will be met, albeit in a format that may differ slightly from the previous model. SEN teaching and support will be delivered in a variety of ways including differentiation in the mainstream classroom, one to one support, small group support and team teaching as outlined in the ‘How is additional support provided?’ question above. Students may access SEN resources in a more flexible manner throughout their time at school to better meet their dynamic needs.