Given this event, I believe it is timely to remind us all what the role of learning support is supposed to be at school level. Having consulted various education papers on Learning Support, I present the view of the Irish Education Department, as contained in its "Learning Support Guidelines". The definitions are split into three categories:
- principles of learning support;
- aims of learning support, and
- expected outcomes of learning support
Principles of Learning Support
Effective learning-support programmes are based on the following principles: (1) effective whole-school policies and parental involvement; (2) prevention of failure; (3) provision of intensive early intervention and (4) direction of resources towards pupils in greatest need.
Aims of Learning Support
The principal aim of learning support is to optimise the teaching and learning process in order to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy before leaving primary school. This aim can be achieved most effectively through the implementation of whole-school policies and approaches that target the learning needs of the lowest achieving pupils. Such policies and approaches can be developed through consultation; they provide a means of coordinating the work of teachers, parents and others on behalf of these pupils. Central to this process will be the enhancement of classroom-based learning and it will include, as appropriate, supplementary teaching by the learning-support teacher in the classroom or in the learning-support room.
Expected outcomes of Learning Support
The expected outcomes of learning-support programmes for pupils with low achievement/
learning difficulties can be described as follows: (a) improved learning by these pupils; (b) enhancement of basic skills and learning strategies to a level which enables these pupils to participate in the full curriculum; c) the achievement of adequate levels of competency in literacy and mathematics by these pupils before they leave primary education; (d) the application of independent learning strategies by these pupils resulting in commitment to, and involvement in their own learning, positive attitudes to school and high levels of self esteem; (d) partnership between class teachers, learning-support teachers and parents in planning and implementing supplementary teaching programmes for these pupils and (5) the implementation of a tracking system at whole-school level to monitor the progress of these pupils.
Given the-above indications, do you believe we are aligned in terms of our approach, and are we stemming-the-tide in the way we are dealing with learners-at-risk? Do leave a comment.
Source: Government of Ireland, 2000. Learning Support Guidelines