Paul is a first year student in a large urban community school with a student population of 1100. He has a sunny disposition, and is a very sociable 14 year old with many friends. He has a wide range of interests including rock music, swimming, drums and soccer. He is the youngest of three children and an only boy. Paul has Williams Syndrome (Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that causes medical and developmental problems) and is functioning within the moderate range of general learning disabilities. Paul is involved with the Special Olympics and goes to music camp with the Williams Syndrome society. Paul attended a mainstream primary school and his parents are very eager that he attends a mainstream postprimary school. The school atmosphere is pastoral and its structures and underlying philosophy are nurturing and supportive. It is characterised by its emphasis on partnership, collaboration and cooperation. Collaboration stretches beyond the school as Paul is involved in an outreach programme with a local special school and this is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of an educational psychologist, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist.
The junior cycle curriculum is offered in a mixed-ability setting. Students select from a range of 14 subjects - Irish, English, Mathematics, Geography, History, a European language, Science, Business Studies, Social Personal Health Education (SPHE), Civic Social Political Education (CSPE), Physical Education (PE), Religious Education, Art, Craft, Design, Metalwork, Materials Technology Wood, Music, Technical Graphics and Home Economics.
In first year students have an opportunity to sample some subjects, from which they choose their preferences to study in 2nd and 3rd year. Paul’s timetable has been designed to maximise his inclusion, while being mindful that he is easily tired. In this way Paul attends for 38 of the 45 class periods each week. He follows a reduced curriculum, taking Art, Craft, Design, Metalwork, Geography, Music, SPHE, PE, CSPE, and Computers with his peers, in mixed-ability classes. He works with a resource teacher and a small group (3-4 students) for his Mathematics and English classes for six periods per week each, and has four additional one-to-one withdrawal classes with his PE, Geography and English teachers. Each day Paul’s learning takes place in a variety of settings, the majority with his mainstream peers, and an average of two class periods per day in small group or one-to-one tuition settings.