Education is the process that enables each child to achieve his or her potential.  The word education derives from the Latin verb educo, meaning ‘to draw forth from within’. Education provides children with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and life skills that will help them to become successful adult members of their community. The social learning opportunities provided by schools are as important as academic learning.

What are the goals of education for children with Down syndrome? They are the same as for all other children; which is to equip children with Down syndrome to lead independent adult lives in the community. Most will need some degree of support from friends, family and services, but education will make a significant difference to the level of independence achieved in work, social and leisure life
(from Down Syndrome Education International – Education for Individuals with Down syndrome – An overview (2000, Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird)

The Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN) makes provision for the education of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools:

“… to provide that the education of people with [such] needs shall, wherever possible, take place in an inclusive environment with those who do not have such needs, to provide that people with special educational needs shall have the same right to avail of and benefit from appropriate education as do their peers who do not have such needs, to assist children with special educational needs to leave school with the skills necessary to participate to the level of their capacity in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and to live independent and fulfilled lives”
(EPSEN ACT, 2004, preamble)

It is hoped that the needs of the majority of children with SEN can be met in their local mainstream school. Sometimes, however, a child with SEN may require the supports and resources available in a special school to prepare him or her to become an independent, capable, and confident adult. There is a broad range of SEN, and it follows that there needs to be a wide range of options available to cater for those needs. Educational placement is a matter of choice, and parents must select the most suitable and appropriate form of education for their child. All available options should be considered and weighed up before deciding which setting will best suit the needs of each individual child. This may be a:

  • Mainstream school
  • Special class or unit within a mainstream school
  • Special school

In choosing a placement, parents should try to establish the following information about each school they are considering:

  • What is the admissions policy of the school? (Do they take children from a certain catchment area only? Is there an entrance exam or transition test that incoming pupils have to sit? ask to see the school’s admission policy)
  • What are the other policies of the school? (Check their website or contact the school)
  • What is the ethos of the school? (Is the school denominational, multi-denominational, etc.?)
  • What is the atmosphere of the school like? (Pay a visit to experience the school atmosphere- avail of any open evenings or new parents meetings. Talk to teachers and other parents to get an idea)
  • What provisions does the school make for pupils with SEN? (Ask about the school’s special needs policy)
  • How does the school use its resources and support staff?
  • What kind of facilities and resources does the school have? (Sports resources, music resources, play areas, etc.)
  • Transitioning (is the school linked to a secondary school nearby where most pupils will go on to?)
  • What extra-curricular activities are available?
  • What is the pupil-teacher ratio? (How many children per class)
  • How is pupil progress assessed? (How does the school assess learning and progress, and how often? Do they use continuous assessment or formal tests?)
  • What provisions does the school make for involving parents in their children’s education? (Are there regular meetings? Can parents get involved in certain activities?  Is there an active parents’ association?)
  • What are the communication channels between the school and parents? (notes? Website? Homework journal? Phone calls?)

Down Syndrome Ireland seeks meeting with Minister of Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD to discuss July Provision concerns

Down Syndrome Ireland has been contacted by a growing number of parents in relation to the issue of July Provision for their children. As an … Continue reading

DSI welcomes Government’s pilot project to bring specialised therapists into schools and pre-schools

Down Syndrome Ireland welcomes the Government initiative to provide speech and language and occupational therapy support to children in 75 schools and 75 pre-school settings … Continue reading


We recently welcomed over 80 parents and teachers to our Education Seminars for Preschool and Primary school children and also to the DSI Transition to … Continue reading