ALTHOUGH St Joseph’s Secondary School, Tulla awaits the development of its new school, the facility has this year benefitted from an additional class, which will cater for the needs of six new students with special needs.
St Joseph’s has an existing Asperger’s Syndrome Unit in the school but this school term a second class was established to cater for the growing need in the school’s catchment area. It is one of the few schools in the country to benefit from the establishment of a new classroom for students with special needs.
School principal Margaret O’Brien outlined that students with Asperger’s syndrome have varying needs and this new facility will help best suit the needs of the individual students benefiting from it.
“Some students with this classification would be high functioning and need more support. We also wanted to accommodate some senior students and that’s why we have a new senior unit this year. We would have had some students who would have passed through the class and have completed a Leaving Certificate, but these students have different needs and we have a few more than we might have had before this year,” she said.
The Asperger’s Syndrome Unit caters to students with a specific category of special needs and students need to have an Asperger’s designation to be able to avail of the class.
Ms O’Brien explained that through a tailor made programme students are allocated extra tuition time and join with the main classes for certain classroom activities, as well as benefiting from specialised tuition in the Asperger’s Syndrome Unit.
“Six is the most you can have in a unit, and as in our case we would have eight students in need of tuition, we have a new unit this year. Obviously when we have our new school in a couple of years time we will have all the bells and whistles that go with it; at the minute it’s really an adaptation of what we have already with the specific resources the students require. This additional class means we have six in the junior group and two students in the senior group,” she said.
“We are very happy that this unit has been allocated to us. It will take a bit of time to adapt and to change things and streamline them according to the needs of students, but we have that well in train at this stage. In these times of cutbacks we’re glad we are able to accommodate these students,” Ms O’Brien concluded.