In July 2011 the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy - Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life 2011-2020 - was published. It set out to raise standards in literacy and numeracy in early years and school settings. It recognised the importance of these key skills for all aspects of day-to-day life and learning. Circulars 56/2011 for the primary sector and 25/2012 for the post-primary sector provided information on steps to be taken by schools under the Strategy, including the allocation of additional teaching time to both literacy and numeracy.
An interim review was published in 2017. The review shows that standards in literacy and numeracy have risen with Ireland’s students ranked highly in international surveys, particularly in literacy. To build on these achievements the review sets out updated and ambitious targets for literacy and numeracy in schools so as to further improve the standards for the all learners with specific focus on our lowest and highest achieving students. Specific targets for disadvantaged schools have also been included. Publication of the DEIS Plan 2017 is a significant step and its implementation will be the vehicle for driving progress in terms of improving educational outcomes including literacy for pupils at greatest risk of not achieving their full potential. Achievement of targets under the Literacy and Numeracy review will be measured through the National Assessments of English Reading and Mathematics (NAERM) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
The Action Plan for Education 2018 sets out focussed actions in order to close the gap in literacy and numeracy among our learners, this focus will continue.
The Department of Education and Skills does not hold data on individual children in terms of literacy or numeracy issues. These issues are assessed and managed at a school level.
Standardised Testing results from primary schools, come to the Department in an amalgamated form. The purpose of these tests is to inform the development of school profiles, to allocate special education teachers to schools and to inform national education policy.
Measures and supports, such as those listed below, are available for schools to assist them in addressing the needs of a particular student. It is up to schools to adopt these supports as they see fit.
- The Department has set out the Continuum of Support framework to assist schools in identifying and responding to pupils’ needs. This framework helps to ensure that interventions are incremental, moving from class-based interventions to more intensive and individualised support, and that they are informed by careful monitoring of progress.
- Many children require additional teaching support in schools. In such circumstances, the classroom teacher is supported by Special Educational Needs Teachers, who will have access to additional training in the area of special education, and who will work closely with the class teacher to provide additional teaching support for children with special educational needs.
- The classroom teacher, in consultation with the Special Educational Needs Teacher as required, will consider ways in which the curriculum can be differentiated or adapted to suit the needs of individual pupils. This may also involve identifying the most appropriate teaching strategies and programmes to meet the child’s needs, and deciding which additional teaching supports are required. Parents should normally be consulted as part of this process.
- The Department has produced Guidelines for Primary Schools: Supporting Pupils with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools in consultation with the National Educational Psychological Services, the Inspectorate and Special Education Section. This gives guidance to schools in how to use additional resources to support children with learning difficulties and special educational needs either within the classroom or in a smaller learning support context