The School Inclusion Model is based on policy advice from the National Council for Special Education based on the principle of providing the right support at the right time delivered by a range of personnel with relevant qualifications and skill-sets. Its purpose is to help students achieve better outcomes. Independent evaluation is a central part of the project and the outcome will inform future policy on extending the SIM. The project includes a number of elements:
- Provision of in-school therapies (speech and language, occupational);
- Allocation of SNAs on a frontloaded basis;
- Additional professional supports for the school including psychology, behavioural and professional development; and
- Training of SNAs.
In February 2019, the Government approved the trialling of the Model for the 2019/20 school year. Initially designed as a one year pilot involving up to 75 participating schools in the CHO 7 region, it was interrupted by Covid-19 with the closure of schools and the diversion of HSE therapists from the project to Covid related work. It was then extended to the 2020/21 school year which has also been interrupted by Covid.
Progress has been made on aspects of the Model but much remains to be done in terms of in-school implementation and evaluation. The Model will resume once schools are reopened and planning is underway in this regard.
As part of the 2021 Budget measures, funding is being made available to extend the School Inclusion Model (SIM) to two other areas in 2021.