Individual Education Plans are provided for under the EPSEN Act, 2004.
They are one of a number of provisions within the Act which have yet to be enacted by the Minister for Education and Skills.
That said, many school have already began to provide Individual Education Plans for students with special educational needs.
So, what is an Individual Education Plan?
An IEP is designed to be an holistic process including all the key stakeholders in the student’s education to establish
a) how the student is performing presently
b) what the priority education goals are for the student to achieve within a fixed period of time
c) what resources or supports are required in order for these goals to be obtained
d) when this plan should be reviewed and evaluated.
It is important to note that IEPs should only include educational goals surplus to the curriculum being followed in the classroom. In other words, not every child with Autism will need the curriculum to be adapted as a whole or to get support in all areas of the curriculum.
Therefore, the idea of the IEP is to identify areas outside of what is being thought in the classroom or the approach which is being taken in the classroom to support the child in achieving goals and targets in these areas.
An IEP is also meant to take into account a child’s ability to learn and reach these goals at a pace they can manage, therefore the goals set out in the IEP should
a) focus on priority areas
b) be realistic in terms of time allocation and expected outcomes.
The process should involve the class teacher and parents as well as the student and the person responsible for special education in the school, generally the resource teacher and other key stakeholders in the student’s education, such as an SNA.
By including the different stakeholders in the process it not only allows all to have their views heard, but also allows a positive and inclusive approach to be taken.
Critically, this gives the person with Autism an opportunity to identify areas they would like to work on; as well as parents who often have a different perspective on what they would like their child to achieve and what supports they feel they need to achieve this!
An IEP also has the potential to play an important co-ordinating role in education ensuring that educational approaches and goals for a child with Autism are the same in the classroom and the resource room and are fully understood at home also.
While schools are not yet obliged to provide an IEP it is a really useful tool for all involved. So, if you have not obtained one or something along the lines of an inclusive and target-driven plan for your child’s education, why not ask the school if one be put in place? You can refer them to the document below for further information.
The NCSE has a detailed document relating to IEPs and the standards and best practise associated with them, with a particular emphasis on the obligations which will be involved when the requirement is implemented. This document can be reviewed