Church of Ireland College of Education

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Church of Ireland College of
96 Upper Rathmines Road,
Dublin 6,

Tel: + 353 (0)1 497 0033
Fax: + 353 (0)1 497 1932

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Postgraduate Diploma


The aim of the course is to provide substantial theoretical and practical training for teachers working with pupils with special educational needs and for teachers working with pupils requiring learning support. The Department of Education and Skills has agreed the content of the course.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning Support and Special Educational Needs, participants will have:

  • Developed their knowledge and understanding of learning support and special educational needs
  • Demonstrated knowledge of current literature and developments in the field
  • Developed an increased awareness of the learning support and special educational needs of students and of the accommodations which need to be put in place so that the students with such requirements can be meaningfully catered for
  • Achieved greater confidence in their ability to act in the role of a support teacher in their schools and to collaborate with different colleagues and professionals
  • Shown an increased awareness of the need to act as an advocate in the school for students with learning support and/or special educational needs
  • Demonstrated a competence to
    • Assess and profile pupils with learning support and special educational needs
    • Develop learning plans for individuals and groups
    • Implement plans in the classroom situation
    • Develop and implement inclusive curricula alongside individual education programmes
  • Developed a greater appreciation of the place of assistive and augmentative technology in the education of students with special educational needs
  • Developed the ability to critically evaluate their work through reflective practice

Course Content

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Early Childhood Education (for Primary Teachers)
  • Students with Learning Support/Special Educational Needs: Considerations for Learning and Teaching
  • Formal and Informal Assessment
  • Profiling and Programme Planning
  • Individual Education Plans
  • Teaching Students who Experience Difficulties in the Following Areas:
    • Language and communication
    • Literacy
    • Numeracy & mathematical skills
    • Motor Co-ordination
    • Personal and social development
  • Curriculum:
    • Primary
    • Junior cycle post-primary
    • Senior cycle post-primary
  • Materials and Resources
  • Using Augmentative and Assistive Technology/ICT
  • Creating Inclusive Schools
  • Administration and Record Keeping
  • Professional Development:
    • Attitudes to disability
    • Working collaboratively
    • Continuing professional development
    • Effective listening and communication
    • Contemporary Issues

Course Requirements

In order to satisfactorily complete the course, participants must meet the following requirements:

  • Full attendance at all lectures and workshops, including the placements
  • Completion of a number of assignments to a satisfactory standard
  • Each course participant will be visited on at least four occasions during the year by a tutor. During the visits, participants will be expected to demonstrate an ability to put into practice the theory and practice covered during lectures and seminars, especially in the areas of assessment and profiling as well as the development and implementation of learning plans.

Duration and Organisation

The course spans the academic year, with the time divided between attendance at the course venue, placements in suitable educational or clinical settings, completion of written assignments and teaching in the participants' own schools.

The course is organised on a block release basis. Teachers attend lectures and seminars at the course venue for eight weeks. Teachers will also be expected to attend the college on four Saturdays during the year.


School authorities/VECs are invited to nominate not more than one teacher per school who meet the requirements. Approximately sixty teachers are accepted onto the course.


Admission to the course is currently open to those who are eligible for appointment as primary or second-level teachers and are registered with the Teaching Council. They must be nominated to attend the course by their Boards of Management and their school must have been allocated a learning support or resource post (or resource hours) by the Department of Education and Skills.

An undertaking must be given that teachers selected for the course will spend a minimum of twelve hours per week working with students who have special educational needs or are in receipt of learning support.


The Postgraduate Diploma in Learning Support & Special Educational Needs is accredited by Trinity College, Dublin and is awarded to participants who successfully complete the programme. Participants are assessed on the basis of full attendance and participation during lectures, workshops and placements, completion of written assignments and supervision of their work as learning support or resource teachers in schools.

Further Study

Graduates of this course are eligible to apply to pursue further study at Master's level in several colleges/universities. Please contact the College for further information.

Fees and Expenses

No course or registration fees apply to this course.