One of the biggest concerns parents have in relation to their children and particularly so in the case of a child with Down Syndrome is their education. When parents meet it is generally the main topic of conversation. There are a lot of myths and misinformation out there, so it is vitally important to have the correct information. At our recent education seminars the presenters in all cases emphasised the importance of preparing early for both their transition to primary and second level education. As a parent/guardian you need to prepare early.

Down Syndrome Cork provides an education service for its Cork members in addition to the service provided by Down Syndrome Ireland. Liam Ahern, former principal of St Aidans Community College and parent of a child with Down Syndrome coordinates the service. During the year DS Cork hold seminars for parents on topics such as “Preparing for entry to the Primary School System” and “Preparing for entry to Second Level”.

These seminars are presented by practitioners who are up to date with developments in the education field. This years presenters were Mr Jim Daly, former principal of Scoil Oilibheir in Ballyvolane, Orla Healy who is a Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) with the NCSE and Anne O Donovan, former Special Needs Coordinator in St Aidans and now Education Coordinator in Colaiste Ard Alainn.

As part of our service we are available for the following:

  • Appointments to meet with parents
  • Review Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Advice on applying to schools and what your child’s rights are
  • We visit schools and support teachers
  • I pad talks in conjunction with SLT
  • Numicon talks for parents and teachers
  • Reading and Literacy
  • Lamh Training for Teachers
  • Library of Support materials
  • Advice on Assessments

Useful Web Addresses


It is vitally important that you keep a file on your child. Sounds simple but not everybody does it and there is often a major panic when information is requested from the school.

Keep all of your child’s reports in the file, whether it be Medical, Psychological, Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, Behavioural as these will all be important when seeking resources.

If the school gives you a deadline to bring in information, keep it as the Department of Education are very strict about deadlines in relation to resource.

Keep a copy of everything you give the school.

If a school tells you they will take your child only if they get certain resources; they are not allowed to do this. I would suggest contacting the Department of Education and Skills and the National Education and Welfare Board (see above website)

Always ask for a copy of the school’s admissions policy.

When meeting the school Principal/Special Education Coordinator, always write down the questions you have for them, it can be daunting in the Principal’s office.


Glossary of Terms

Principals use these terms quite a lot and you may be hearing them for the first time.

  • SENO: The Special Education Needs Organiser is the person who decides what resources your child will receive based on the information given to them.
  • HIGH INCIDENCE: High incidence in general population (DS is included in this, however we would argue strongly against this as it brings with it less resources).
  • LOW INCIDENCE: Other disabilities falls into this category and consequently gets more resources.
  • GENERAL ALLOCATION: This is the allocation of hours that schools get based on the number of pupils and whether it is a boy or girls school. The bigger the school the bigger the allocation they receive.
  • INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLAN: This is an education plan specifically designed to suit the needs of the individual child. It is known as an IEP. You should as a parent have an input into this plan.

The education service is based in our offices at Unit 7, Kilnap Business Park, Old Mallow Road, Cork. Liam Ahern can be contacted at 0214300444/0861733250 or on email

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