What secondary school can I go to if I have additional educational needs?

Learn more about your right to education if you have additional education needs in Ireland

Written by Children's Rights Alliance


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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

If you have special educational needs, you have the right to education that suits your needs. You have a right to be treated equally to other students in school. You should not be treated less favourably than other students in the same situation based on your disability. 

Where can I go to school if I have special educational needs?

You can be educated in:

  •  a mainstream class in a mainstream primary or post-primary school
  •  a special class in a mainstream primary or post-primary school that has fewer students than other classes
  •  a special school for students with special educational needs

The law says that children with special educational needs should, where possible, be educated in a mainstream school with children who do not have special needs. This should happen unless it would not be the best thing for your or would not be good for the other children in the school.

If I had extra supports in primary school, will I get them in secondary school?

You will not automatically get additional supports like extra teaching support or a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) when you go to post-primary school. Parents or guardians can check to make sure that your primary school sends all reports on to the post-primary school before you arrive.

If you need continuous support, the school may provide you with some extra learning support from its learning support team. Alternatively, it may apply to the National Council for Special Education for additional resources. This means that your parent or guardian would have to submit medical reports about your specific needs so the Council could assess whether or not to give you additional supports. This includes SNA support if you continue to need it. For more see the Council’s website.

How can I access reasonable conditions for exams?

If you are in secondary school and have special needs, your school may make special arrangements for you while you are sitting State examinations like the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate. If you have a disability, for example a visual impairment, you can apply through your school for reasonable services during examinations such as a scribe or a reader. If you are not satisfied with the arrangements made, you may appeal to an independent appeals forum.

For more information speak to your school or see the State Examinations Commission website.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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