Blackrock Educate Together Secondary School

Connolly Class

Special Class (Autism) - Connolly Class

Blackrock Educate Together Secondary School operates a Special Class (ASD) called Connolly. The Connolly class comprises six students, supported by teachers and SNAs, and this class runs parallel to the main school timetable. Blackrock ETSS recognises that each student in the ASD class is unique; each of these students has their own unique strengths and faces their own unique challenges. Staff in the Connolly class spend time getting to know and understand the needs of each student by thoroughly researching the information available in each case, through observation of the students in their day-to-day life in the school, and by exploring which strategies help students most and which should be avoided. Staff are dedicated to encouraging students in their interests and in helping them discover new skills and talents to ensure each student achieves their full potential in an academic and holistic sense.

Connolly staff create an environment of consultation with students and parents to help build the best possible atmosphere for learning. Examples of this consultation include: consulting on where they would like to sit, giving instructions in lists and breaking down projects into manageable tasks, allowing the necessary time to process information, and concentrating always on creating conditions that set the students up for successful educational experiences. Teaching methodologies are varied and include thoughtful approaches such as backing up verbal information with pictures and helping students to apply instructions to real-life situations.

Often, one of the biggest difficulties for autistic students is organisation, or understanding how to do homework. The staff in the Connolly class help students organise their approach to homework and study and they communicate with subject teachers to help develop the most successful strategies for guiding AS students towards reaching their full potential. Staff in the Connolly class have high expectations of students, believing that their students can thrive in secondary school. They may need adaptations, a different approach, and a lot of kindness and understanding, but it is important to note that many autistic students go on to great achievements in further education and adult life. The job of Blackrock Educate Together Secondary School is to empower students as much as possible to help them reach their own full potential in the future.

Operation

As much as possible, students who are members of Connolly class will attend their mainstream classes e.g. maths, geography etc. Individual provisions may be involved in their inclusion in the mainstream class, but it is expected that they would access as much of the main curriculum as possible, given their individual needs. Running parallel to the mainstream is the Connolly class itself, which takes a more tailored and individual approach to tuition. Students attending the specific Connolly classes may work on literacy, and numeracy, and receive learning support in any of their subjects, or teachers may use their own subject specialties to engage the key learning skills required to succeed.

The lead Connolly teacher will devise individual timetables as appropriate for each Connolly student, and liaise frequently with both the IEN team, and the Connolly teachers, to ensure that each student is supported, challenged, and pushed to achieve. Teachers teaching in Connolly will familiarise themselves with each student’s Student Support File to access their Individual Educational Plan so that they can consult the targets for each student, and work with the lead Connolly teacher to devise units of learning to work towards achieving these targets. Our mantra is that our Connolly class is a classroom without walls, and to that end, we meet students where they are on their learning journey.

The Sandymount Building, Simmonscourt Road, Dublin 4
01 912 0440
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