Learning Programme 2: Tara (Special class, post-primary school)

Introduction

Tara is a fourteen-year-old friendly and determined student who has a positive and happy outlook. Tara has Down syndrome and is functioning at the low moderate range of general learning disability. She also has conductive sensorineural hearing loss and a congenital absence of her left hand. Tara wears a hearing aid (which has an associated microphone) and a prosthetic hand to assist with her impairments. Tara has significant speech and language needs and uses some Lámh signs to communicate with those around her. Làmh is supported and encouraged among students and teachers throughout the school environment in order to promote Tara’s communication and inclusion.

Tara loves coming to school but also has a wide range of interests and hobbies. She loves music and dancing. She goes horse riding, swimming and enjoys helping out on the farm. Tara is also very sociable. She loves being in the company of others, especially spending time with friends or taking part in other socialising events such as parties or visiting her extended family. As Tara has a history of sleep apnoea she can become tired throughout the day especially if suffering from a cold or flu. Otherwise Tara loves being active in her environment.

Tara attends a post-primary school within a special class setting. This school is a DEIS rural community school with over 400 students. It provides the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, JCSP and PLC FETAC level 5. The special class caters for students with moderate general learning disability. This classroom runs both the Level 1 and Level 2 Learning programme for its students. The special class is allocated one and a half teachers with access to an SNA. Tara spends the majority of the day in her base special class setting but avails of practical classroom settings for specific classes with the home economics, art and PE teacher. Tara attends a number of mainstream classes throughout the day and some small resource groups have weekly classes within the special class. Such timetables are formed in order to extend Tara’s inclusion as much as possible.