Purpose of an IEP
The provision of education plans for individual students is mandated by the EPSEN Act (2004). An IEP is a written document which specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time. It should not contain everything to be taught to the student in a period of time, but rather, that which is additional or different to the main class curriculum. The strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve these goals are also specified in the IEP:
The Individual Education Plan is developed through a collaborative process involving the school, parents the student (where appropriate) and other relevant personnel and agencies. It refers to the adapted or modified aspects of the educational programme and focuses on priority learning needs, although the student may also have other learning needs that will not require the same degree of planning and monitoring. Not every aspect of the curriculum and school life needs to be modified for every student with SEN – only those areas of identified need arising from assessment should be covered. The amount of adaptation and support will vary according to the individual learning needs of each student. Some students with more complex needs may require significant educational modifications.
(NCSE Guidelines on the Individual Education Plan Process, p.4)
While IEPs are not as yet a legal requirement in Irish schools, they will become so when the EPSEN Act is fully implemented. Many teachers of children with SEN have been using IEPs or similar individual plans for some time now.
Guidelines on the Individual Education Plan Process
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have issued guidelines on planning an IEP, providing teachers, parents and schools the opportunity to become familiar with the process. The guidelines present a checklist of the essential elements required for an IEP.
The Guidelines can be accessed on www.ncse.ie/publications.html
A selection of sample IEP templates is given at the back of the NCSE IEP Guidelines document. There is no one set style, and schools can adapt sample templates to suit their needs, and the needs of each individual child.