What is a special reading school?
St Oliver Plunkett N.S is one of four special reading schools in the Irish Republic (3 in Dublin and one in Cork) which caters exclusively for children with Specific Reading Difficulties, including Dyslexia. It is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin.
The school is very similar to a mainstream school in that is funded by the Department of Education & Skills, has a Board of Management and a Parents’ Association which is affiliated to the NPC (National Parent’s Council. It follows the mainstream school standardised year and the curricular programmes prescribed by the Department of Education & Skills.
The objective of St Oliver Plunkett N.S. is to provide a temporary, full time, special education setting for children with a specific learning difficulty. Children work intensively here for a period of up to two years after which they return to mainstream education. Obviously, the main focus is on improving literacy levels.
St Oliver Plunkett NS is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin but we welcome children of all religions and none.
The school can accommodate 63 children each year and, as most children stay for two years, the school population will be made up of children who are in their first year and those who are staying for their second. The children are grouped according to age and reading ability. It is school policy to endeavour to keep similar literacy levels and similar class levels together. The teacher-pupil ratio is 9:1 allowing for individual programmes tailored to meet each child’s specific learning needs. The school uses the Wilson Reading System (WRS) for Literacy.
How do I know if my child is eligible for enrolment in a special reading school?
Most parents/guardians are aware that their child is struggling with reading in school so:
- The first step is to approach the child’s teacher and discuss any concerns with them. A lot of children will improve through extra help in school.
- If a child is not improving it may be a good idea to have an educational psychological assessment done. Some assessments can be done through NEPS (National Educational Psychological Service) or parents/guardians can pay for a private assessment (Please see FAQ “Where can I get an Educational Psychological Assessment?) A child may have difficulty with writing, spelling and mathematics but it is on the basis of their reading ability that they will be accepted for enrolment.
- Following an assessment, application for a place in a reading school can be made. Applications are made by the psychologist, the school or the parent/guardian of the child.
Enrolment is strictly adhered to as detailed in the enrolment policy. At the moment we have more applications for enrolment than places.
The child must
- Be aged between 8-12
- Have a specific reading difficulty
- Have average/above average intelligence
Where can I get an Educational Psychological Assessment?
You can speak to your child’s school about the possibility of a NEPS assessment for your child. It is important to remember that only a very limited amount of children can access a report in this way and there may be a long wait.
You can also have an assessment done privately and costs vary. It is a good idea to have a report done by a psychologist that has been recommended to you.
The report will have to:
- measure a child’s IQ,
- it will have to have a Word Reading score and
- there will need to be a recommendation that the child be enrolled in our school.
How many staff in the school and what is the class size?
In the school year 2016-2017 we have:
- An Administrative Principal
- 8 Class Teachers (1 Job Share)
- A part time Speech & Language Therapist
- 6 Special Needs Assistants
- A full time School Secretary
- A part time caretaker
- A part time cleaner
- A part-time specialist teacher (Music)
Do the children cover all the subjects in the Reading School?
The full range of subjects, as outlined in the Curriculum for Primary Schools, is taught to the children. However, special emphasis is placed on the teaching of reading, writing & spelling as well as the development of good oral language skills.
The children spend approximately 2 hours each day on these subjects. A speech and language therapist works in the classes with the children and also withdraws individual children for specific language work. One hour is spent in the study of Mathematics. The following subject areas are studied during the remaining time: History, Geography, Science, Religion, Visual Arts, Music, Drama, SPHE and PE which includes a weekly swimming lesson.
Following testing in September, the children are regrouped into Mathematics classes and math’s lessons are at the same time for all classes to facilitate this.
Some classes double up for SESE subjects in the afternoon.
Applications for an Irish Exemption can be made through the school. These applications will need to be made in writing. Please remember that your child can study Irish in the future even though they have an Irish exemption.
I live a long way away from Monkstown. How will I get my child to the school if my application is successful?
Most of the children come from the South Dublin/Wicklow area. The Department of Education provides transport for all of the children and a transport grant for those children who have to travel a long distance to access the school bus. The school is not in any way responsible for the school buses but will facilitate parents to apply for a place and will also assist in the selection of embarkation points. Disputes with the bus companies cannot be negotiated through the school.
The Department of Education provides the following transport options to and from the school for pupils:
(A) A travel ticket for Dublin Bus or DART for pupils using public transport.
(B) Private Coach transport via already established routes (three coaches currently operate from the Rathfarnham, Bray and Arklow directions) Application is made through the school and is organised during your visit to the school to enrol your child.
When your child has been accepted for enrolment, you will be given a transport form to sign. This will be returned to the DOES and the bus route will be decided on by Bus Eireann and the DOES. The school has no role in this other than to facilitate parents by returning the application forms. The buses run on all the school days, including half days. Some parents choose to drive their child to school.
When should I send in my Application and when will I know if my Application is successful?
You can send in your application anytime. We advise that you send it in as soon as possible because we get a lot of applications from a very large catchment area.
An application is simply a copy of the report and ALL YOUR CONTACT DETAILS. We usually inform schools and parents of our decision in January. We always create a waiting list from our applications.
Click here for more info
Can I visit the school before I send in an application?
How much will it cost to send my child to the reading school?
The charge for books in 2016 was €275. This cost includes:
- All Wilson Programme materials
- Text Book rental
- English Resources & Class Library Books
- Specialised School Library Books
- Standardised Assessment tests
- Computer software & maintenance
- Arts & Crafts
- Personal Pupil Accident insurance
- Science/History and Geography Materials
- Duplicating paper & Photocopying costs.
- Laminating costs
- Copies and Stationery at the start of the school year
- A specialist teacher for Music
There is also 1 €200 charge for swimming for the year. We have a direct debit facility and will; facilitate parents in the payment of this money in any way we can. Obviously, if you have any difficulty in meeting school costs, you can speak to the Principal in confidence.
My child is not a Catholic. Is this a problem?
Can my child make his/her communion/confirmation in the reading school?
Will my child have to wear a uniform in the reading school?
As agreed by the Parent’s association and supported by the BOM, all children wear a uniform of navy tracksuit bottoms and tops, a red shirt and footwear of their choice. All pupils are obliged to wear the school uniform every day. Most of the uniform can be purchased in your local chain store and sew-on crests are available in the school.
My child has an SNA; will he/she be entitled to an SNA in the reading school?
When a child moves school a new application will have to be submitted for SNA support. This will be done after your child has been accepted here and before they start school. There is no guarantee that SNA support will be available to any child as it is a new application process.
My child has medical issues; will this come against him/her in the application process?
Should I tell my child’s school that I am making an application to the reading school?
We certainly recommend you inform the school of your intentions. If your child is successful and gains a place here, the principal will be in touch with the principal of your child’s current school to inform him/her of the decision and to seek relevant information about your child.