Féach is a Support Group for Parents of Blind and visually impaired Children

Review of the Visiting Teacher Service and Shelving of the New Allocation Model for 2015

The review of the Visiting Teacher Service is finally published. Copies can be found on www.education.ie. It is 140 pages long. I have skimmed it and the review looks favourable. It recognised that VT (Visiting Teacher's) are central to Supporting Visually Impaired Students in Education. That there is a problem with the size of their caseloads and there needs to be some greater governance around the whole area. There is no talk of increasing the number of VT's but not talk of reducing them either.  We will look at the report in greater detail and keep you informed.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to give their feedback to the review team and especially to Aoife Kearney, one of our members, who did trojan work on our written submission and produced a very strong case for all of us.
The next step it to keep our vioces heard, we will continue talking to the NCSE which will be the department the VT service is moving into, under the  umberella of a new Inclusion Support Service. Your feedback is vital in this. Please contact us with any issues that are arising for you or areas that you are having problems with. Below is the Ministers press release regarding the Review document and incorperating the news that the New Allocation Model will not be introduced this year. We welcome this also as there are many issues with the new model that need to teased out, again we are in constant contact with NCSE regarding this.
We will be in touch with any further developments.
Eithne Walsh

10th February, 2015


Minister for Education and Skills announces the development of a new Inclusion Support Service within the National Council for Special Education


The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan T.D., has today announced the establishment within the National Council for Special Education of a new Inclusion Support Service to assist schools in supporting children with special educational needs.


This service will include the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for children who are deaf/hard of hearing and for children who are blind/visually impaired (VTSVHI) which until now have been managed by the Department. This change is to take immediate effect and is consistent with recommendations of NCSE reports and with the review of the VTSVHI[1].


This change will mean that schools will receive a better and more integrated service from this new Inclusion Support Service. The Inclusion Support Service will build on the existing good work and support which NBSS, SESS and VTSVHI provide to children and their families as well as to teachers and schools and which will continue as normal as the new arrangements are put in place.   


The Minister has today also announced that she is not proposing to change the way teachers are allocated to schools for children with Special Educational Needs for the coming school year.


The Minister said that in making this decision to retain the current model for allocating resource and learning support teachers for the coming year, she was guided by the advice of the NCSE Working Group that sufficient time should be allowed for further consultation to take place with the education stakeholders before the new model is implemented in schools.


The Minister further welcomed the fact that, through consultations which have already taken place, there was a broad welcome for the proposed new model from Parents, disability groups, schools and stakeholders. However, she also said that, while there has been significant consultation in relation to the proposed new model, there had not been sufficient time to address fully the concerns which have been raised for the September 2015 school year. In particular, the Minister noted that a robust mechanism for identifying children with complex special educational needs had yet to be finalised.


The Minister also said that she has asked her Department to review the roles, structures and optimal working arrangements for coordination between the expanded NCSE with its Inclusion Support Service and the National Educational Psychological Service. To this end submissions are sought from any interested stakeholders in relation to the issues by Friday, 13th of March.


Finally the Minister thanked the NCSE and its Chairperson, Mr Eamon Stack for their efforts in bringing proposals for the new model to her for consideration. Work will continue in the coming months to develop the proposed model and to address the range of concerns which were identified through the consultations which have taken place so far. The Minister said that she had asked her Department to design a pilot of the new model which schools could opt into on a voluntary basis. The Minister also said that continuing consultation with stakeholders will be a vital part of the ongoing work. 


The following services are being transferred to the National Council for Special Education:


1.      Special Education Support Service (SESS)

The role of the SESS is to enhance the quality of learning and teaching in relation to special educational provision. The service co-ordinates, develops and delivers a range of professional development initiatives and support structures for school personnel working with students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, special schools and special classes.


2.      National Behavioural Support Service

The role of the NBSS is to assist schools in addressing current behavioural concerns on three levels. The NBSS works with schools in addressing students’ social, emotional, academic and behavioural needs. This is done at school-wide level for all students; with targeted interventions for some students; and at intensive individualised support for a few students.


3.      Visiting Teacher Service for children and young people who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing; Blind/Visually Impaired

The visiting teacher service provides advice and support to ensure that the needs of children and young people with hearing and visual impairment are met. This service is available at pre-school, primary, post-primary. Each visiting teacher is responsible for a particular region and is allocated a case load of pupils. The visiting teacher supports the children, parents/guardians, teachers and other professionals involved with the child. 


Press Office

Department of Education and Skills

Marlborough Street

Dublin 1


01 889 2322

087 782 0941


[1] The review of the VTSVHI is published today on the DES website- www.education.ie. The NCSE will seek to implement the recommendations from this report.  


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