St. Marnock’s National School

Strand Road


Co. Dublin.


Special Class for Pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorder

Enrolment & Admissions Policy


St. Marnock’s NS Policy on Special Class for Pupils with Specific Speech & Language Disorder.

Introductory Statement:

This policy sets out to explain the enrolment process for pupils with Specific Speech & Language Disorders in the Specific Speech & Language Disorder Class in St. Marnock’s NS. It is set out in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1998. The guidelines set out in the Department of Education and Skills circular 0038/2007 are also referred to. It is further informed by the ‘Evaluation of Special Classes for pupils with SSLD’ undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) Inspectorate in 2005.

The Board of Management trusts that this policy will assist parents/guardians in relation to enrolment criteria and procedures for the Specific Speech & Language Disorder Class in St. Marnock’s NS.

Furthermore the Board of Management and the Principal will be happy to clarify any further matters arising from the policy.



Developmental Language Disorder

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is the up to date term for ‘Specific Speech & Language Disorder or Impairment’ (SSLD/SSLI).

In May 2017 the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists (IASLT) launched a Position Paper & Guidance Document calledSupporting Children with Developmental Language Disorder in Ireland’.

This follows significant research by a multi-national and multidisciplinary group of experts regarding the lack of agreement about criteria and terminology for children’s language difficulties which affects access to services as well as hindering research and practice.

One of the key points of the outcome of this study termed CATALISE: Phase 1 & Phase 2 was that ‘Developmental Language Disorder’ (DLD) emerged as the preferred term for language problems that are severe enough to interfere with daily life, have a poor prognosis, and were not associated with a clear bio-medical aetiology.

The term Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is the current term now in use in Ireland to refer to a wider group of clients. This term replaces the terminology of Specific Speech & Language Impairment (SSLI) or Specific Speech & Language Disorder (SSLD). The IASLT has set up an implementation group regarding the new terminology.

The current Department of Education & Skills (DES) criteria for referral to an SSLD Class have not changed. These classes continue to be referred to as an SSLD Class- Specific Speech & Language Disorder Class- by the DES. 



Any or all of the following areas of speech/language may be affected: language comprehension; learning and using the rules of grammar; pronunciation; learning, storing and retrieving words; conversation and describing skills. Children with DLD often experience literacy difficulties i.e. problems learning to read, spell and write.

One option within the clinical care pathway for provision of a Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) service to children with DLD is by means of enrolment within a specific class. These classes, termed SSLD (Specific Speech & Language Disorder) classes by the DES offer intensive speech & language therapy which is integrated with the child’s academic development.



For school aged children with DLD ( previously known as SSLD) in Republic of Ireland an arrangement exists between the Department of Education & Skills (DES) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide school-based Speech and Language Therapy to suitable candidates through attendance at a Specific Speech & Language Disorder class.

Children referred to the class must live within a specific catchment area of the HSE Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City & County (North Dublin area). Children due to be enrolled in the Language Class may be eligible for free transport to the school under the terms of the DES School Transport Scheme.

The aim of the class is to address the pupils’ Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) through appropriate education and intensive speech and language therapy within the context of a broad and balanced primary school curriculum.

As per DES guidelines the Language Class provides a curriculum that while similar to that followed to their peers in mainstream classes, has a particular and constant emphasis on the language involved in each subject area. It also provides for intensive speech and language therapy and collaborative programmes between the Language Class Teacher and SLT and parents/guardians. Irish is not part of the Language Class curriculum. 


Limitation on Places and Duration of Placement:

St. Marnock’s NS Language Class was set up in 1998. No more than seven children will be enrolled in the class each year. The aim of the class is to provide children who meet the DES criteria for SSLD Class the opportunity to spend one or two years in a small class setting where they can receive intensive educational and speech & language therapy support (DES Circular 0038/2007).  The place is offered initially for one year. The class is staffed by a full time Teacher employed by the DES and a part time Speech & Language Therapist employed by the local HSE area.




Criteria for Consideration for Enrolment in the SSLD Class:

Note Criteria A and B must be met by the applicant, and the application process must be adhered to;

Criteria A: Department of Education & Skills (DES) Criteria.

The DES has outlined the eligibility criteria for enrolment in an SSLD Class. These include exclusionary and discretionary criteria in relation to language and IQ scores in children with SSLD. In order to be described as having a specific speech and language disorder in Ireland each applicant should meet each of the following criteria (from the DES Circular 0038/07):

(i) The applicant must have an Assessment by a psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence, which places the applicant’s non-verbal, or performance ability within the average range or above. (i.e. non-verbal IQ of 90, or above).

(ii)The applicant must have an Assessment on a standardised test of speech/language development by a speech and language therapist which places the applicant’s performance in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development at two standard deviations or more below the mean or at a generally equivalent level (2 standard deviations or below, at or below a standard score of 70).

(iii) The applicant’s difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment; where the applicant is affected to some degree by hearing impairment, the hearing threshold for the speech-related frequencies should be 40Db.

(iv) Emotional and behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes.


Criteria B: Local Criteria for St Marnock’s NS SSLD Class.

Each applicant, in addition to the DES criteria above, must also meet the following local criteria:

(i)The applicant must live within the designated catchment area, as determined by the HSE, at the time of referral. At present this catchment area is HSE Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City & County (North Dublin Area). A full list of the addresses covered by this catchment area is available from your local HSE Office.

(ii) The referral agent must be satisfied that the applicant’s needs cannot be met by the current Speech & Language Therapy service provision.

(iii) The applicant should be within the age of 5-8 years at the time of the closing date for receipt of applications each year.

(iv) The applicant must have attended SLT sessions in the 9 months prior to the closing date for applications.

Applicants who meet criteria A and B will be considered for enrolment (subject to capacity) in the Language Class once the necessary application process has been adhered to.

STAGE 1 – Referral & Application Process:

Applications for referrals are accepted from Speech and Language Therapists and Psychologists only

Applications should be made to the School Principal with the relevant accompanying documentation listed below.

The relevant documentation and information is updated annually by the HSE Speech & Language Therapist for the Language Class in consultation with the School Principal and the other Admissions Advisory Committee members and distributed to the relevant stakeholder referral agents. Parents may make enquiries directly to the School Principal or HSE Speech & Language Therapist or other Admissions Advisory Committee member. The child’s Speech & Language Therapist or Psychologist co-ordinates the referral to the Language Class having discussed this in detail with parents/guardians and other professionals involved with the child.

Parents/guardians are also made aware by referral agents of the limited number of places available each year in the Language Class, and referral agent should provide a copy of this policy to parents/guardians.

The closing date for referrals for the following school year is 1st March or subsequent calendar working day.

Required Documentation:

Referrals must be accompanied by 5 copies of the following documents:

  1. ‘St. Marnock’s NS Referral & Consent Form for SSLD Class’: this is completed by the referral agent and parents. A Social, Emotional & Behavioural Rating Scale is included in this form which must be completed by the applicant’s SLT and parents/guardians.
  2. A recent Psychological Report (within the last 2 years of referral date). This should include results of a comprehensive assessment of both non-verbal and verbal ability, including subtest results.
  3. An up-to-date Speech and Language Therapy report (compiled within 3 months of referral date) confirming a diagnosis of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). Standard SLT Assessments must have been carried out within the 6 month period prior to referral. The SLT report should include:
  • Summary of case history information
  • History of the applicant’s involvement to date with speech and language therapy services including the number of therapy sessions attended and/or offered; the focus of therapy and therapy outcomes.
  • Description of the applicant’s current profile, including standardised assessment results of receptive and expressive language development and speech. Standard scores, percentile ranks, standard deviations and age equivalents should be included where possible.
  • Where relevant, an indication of the severity of the applicant’s speech impairment i.e. current level of intelligibility, phonological system, oral motor functioning. A short phonological transcription should be included.
  • Summary of the impact of the applicant’s language and/or speech impairment on his/her educational progress and social/emotional development.
  1. ‘St. Marnock’s NS School/Pre-school Teacher Report Form for SSLD Class: Reports should be completed by the applicant’s Class Teacher and Resource Teacher (where relevant) or pre-school teacher on the standard ‘School or preschool report Form for Referral to SSLD Class’.

The teacher(s) is/are asked to complete specific questions related to the impact of the child’s Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) on his/her educational progress and social/emotional development. A Social, Emotional & Behavioural Rating Scale is included in this form.

  1. Other Reports: if relevant (e.g. Audiology, OT, Medical, Social, Psychiatry).
  2. A cover letter to the School Principal should accompany the above documentation. This must be signed and dated by the referral agent.


All documentation and information received is strictly private and confidential.

Referring professionals are asked to ensure that parents/guardians are aware of the limited number of places available each year in the Language Class, and to provide a copy of this policy to parents/guardians.


STAGE2 – Evaluation of Applications

Following the closing date for referrals Applications for enrolment in the Language Class are   evaluated by an Admissions Advisory Committee (AAC) comprising Educational and Clinical professionals. The members of the committee are as follows: 

  • The School Principal of St. Marnock’s NS.
  • The Language Class teacher of St. Marnock’s NS Language Class
  • The HSE Speech and Language Therapist assigned to the class
  • The HSE Speech and Language Therapy Manager from the local area
  • The HSE Principal Clinical Psychologist from the local area


The role of the Admissions Advisory Committee can be described as follows:

  • To make recommendations to the Board of Management regarding the admission, retention/discharge of children in the language class
  • To evaluate and process new applications in the light of DES criteria (DES Circular 0038/2007) and the local criteria for St. Marnock’s NS SSLD Class.
  • In the event of oversubscription, to prioritise applicants deemed eligible according to DES criteria and local criteria and recommend to the Board that places in the class, where available, be offered to children based on the highest ranking in the prioritised list (see pages 9,10 and 11).

As applications to the Language Class usually far exceed the availability of places it is the duty of members of the Admissions Advisory Committee to follow a fair and transparent process in the enrolment procedure.

NOTE: The Board of Management (BOM) of St. Marnock’s NS has the final decision in the enrolment of children in the SSLD Class.






Admission Advisory Committee Meetings, Roles & Prioritisation Procedure:

The role of the Admissions Advisory Committee (AAC) is to recommend to the Board of Management the number of places available in the Language Class for the following school year and to make recommendations to the Board regarding the allocation of available places to qualified applicants.

The School Principal acknowledges all referrals received.

Copies of all referrals received are distributed to members of the AAC ahead of the first meeting. There are two meetings of the AAC.

Pre-Intake Meeting: The AAC meet initially within one month of the closing date of receipt of applications. This is termed the ‘Pre-Intake Meeting’ (Meeting 1). At this meeting the AAC also reviews the current pupils in the Language Class (discussed further on p.11 of this document) and on the basis of this review, the AAC recommends to the Board the number of places available to new applicants for the coming year.

All new applications received by the closing date are evaluated as follows:

 (a) Does the application meet the DES Criteria (Criteria A)?

(b) Does the application meet the local Criteria (Criteria B)?

(c) Is the application complete?

(d) Is follow up or further information required?


Applications that meet the Criteria (A) as laid down by the DES and Criteria B- local criteria- are agreed on by the Committee. Where further follow up is required a member or members of the committee is/are designated to carry out specific tasks.

Applicants that meet Criteria A & B are then selected and processed to the ‘Intake Meeting’ stage which takes place within 3-4 weeks of the ‘Pre-Intake’ meeting.

Applicants that do not meet Criteria A (DES Criteria) and/or Criteria B (local Criteria) will not proceed to the next meeting stage. Such applicants will be notified by the School Principal of the outcome when all places have been offered and accepted in the class.



Intake Meeting: At the Intake Meeting (Meeting 2) the members of the AAC discuss each referral that meets Criteria A (DES Criteria) & Criteria B (local Criteria).  

At the Intake Meeting applicants that meet the above criteria are considered to basis of the following:

  • Severity of presenting Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)
  • The profile of each applicant is discussed in detail with respect to the presentation of the applicants’ Developmental language Disorder, suitability for the SSLD Class and any other issues that might be relevant.
  • Outcome of the Priority Rating Scales (adapted from the New Brunswick Health & Community Services Priority rating Scales 1997). The Special Interest Group of SLTs in SSLI in Ireland has adapted the New Brunswick PRS for application to SSLD class admissions procedure. The rating scale has three sections: impact of the presenting problem (academic, social, emotional), predicted outcome of intervention (e.g. history and success of previous intervention) and impact of service delay.
  • Clinical and Educational opinions of the members of the AAC. Each member of the AAC will be given ample opportunity to express his/her professional opinion with regard to the information evaluated.




The members of the AAC will apply a priority rating of applicants by taking into consideration all information available at the time of the meetings (pre-intake and intake meeting).

The information used by the AAC is contained in the required documentation submitted on each applicant. Note: The required documentation is listed in the policy section headed Stage 1 – Referral and Application process.

The Priority Rating Scale (PRS) for Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD) Class Admissions will be used by the AAC to propose a prioritisation ranking of applicants. In the event of there being more applicants than available spaces, the AAC will recommend to the BOM , that the available places in the SSLD class will be offered to  applicants in priority order.

There are 3 sections of the PRS form. Each section of the PRS has a rating scale from 1-5 with 1 being the lowest priority rating and 5 being the highest priority rating. Priority Rating Scale Form & Process:

Section 1. Impact of the Primary Presenting Problem.

This rates the extent to which the presenting Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) currently impacts or could impact the individual’s ability to function considering the following activities:

Academic: The relevant information from School Teacher’s Report/Pre-school Teacher’s Report; the Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Report and the Psychology Report are used to decide the rating on this scale of 1-5 for the applicant.

Social/Emotional/Behaviour (SEB): The average of the scores from the two SEB scales submitted by the Parent/SLT and by the Teacher is used to decide the rating on this scale of 1-5 for the applicant.

The average of these 2 scores (Academic and SEB score)  is the score for Section 1.

A score for Section 1 is recorded on the form.


Section 2. Predicted outcome of intervention:

The AAC will use all the relevant information from the School Teachers/Pre-school Teacher’s Report; SLT Report; Psychological report and other reports submitted (e.g. Occupational Therapy; Audiology etc) in predicting the outcome of the benefits of this intervention (SSLD Class placement) for this child at this time. The following factors are considered:

  • Family Factors (e.g. family history of speech and language problems)
  • History & success of previous interventions
  • Previous speech and language assessment results
  • Optimum timing (e.g.: school readiness; age; insight into difficulties)
  • Associated behaviours (e.g. attention control and sensory issues)
  • Cognitive profile.

This information is used by the AAC in deciding the rating for this applicant on a scale of 1-5 for section 2.

A score for section 2 is recorded on the form.


Section 3: Impact of Service Delay.

The AAC will use all the relevant information from the School Teachers/Pre-school Teacher’s Report; SLT Report; Psychological report and other reports submitted (e.g. Occupational Therapy; Audiology etc) to decide what the impact of the service delay in  SSLD Class placement could have on the applicant. The following factors are considered:

  • Future deterioration in function (up to a maximum of 12 months).
  • Literacy acquisition.
  • Development of secondary social, emotional and behaviour issues.

This information is used by the AAC in deciding the rating for this applicant on a scale of 1-5 for section 3.

A score for section 3 is recorded on the form.

The sum of the 3 sections totals is the Priority Rating Scale score (PRS) for this applicant. The application is then assigned to a priority category based on the PRS score obtained.

Scores from 3-7 are Low Category.

Scores of 8-11 are Moderate Category

Scores of 12-14 are High Category.

The AAC then rank the applicants based on the Priority Rating Scale Score of each applicant.

Where there is more than one applicant with the same score the AAC use the severity of the standard speech & language therapy (SLT) assessment scores to further prioritise the applicants that received the same PRS  scores. The scores used are those scores from the Speech & Language Therapy Report in the severe range (i.e. -2 standard deviation or more below the mean) under the categories of Receptive Language Standard Score; Expressive Language Standard Score; Speech Standard Score. The applicant with the greatest level of assessed severity in the greatest number of the categories stated will be ranked as the higher priority applicant.

 In the unlikely event of more than one applicant having both the same PRS score and the exact same standard speech and language scores in the same number of categories stated above the AAC will then use the average score from the Social, Emotional, Behaviour Rating (SEB) Scales to assist in ranking of these applicants. The applicant with the highest average score on the SEB scales will be ranked as the higher priority client.

If after all of the above, applicants still have the same score, the clinical and educational judgement of the AAC members will be used to finalise the priority rating of such applicants.


The AAC will recommend that the available places in the SSLD Class, for the academic year commencing in the following September, be offered to the applicants in accordance with the prioritised list.

The Board of Management, informed by the recommendations of the AAC, will decide to whom the available places in the class should be offered and the order in which those on the waiting list should be listed.

NOTE: The remaining applicants will become the waiting list. This waiting list expires on the 1st of November of that year.


The Board of Management, informed by the recommendations of the AAC, will decide to whom the available places in the class should be offered and the order in which those on the waiting list should be listed.


The Principal then contacts the parents/guardians of pupils who are being offered a place in the Language Class by telephone and by letter. The place is initially offered for 1 year.


Written acceptance or rejection of the offer must be received by the school within fourteen calendar days, i.e. fourteen calendar days from the date of the offer letter issued to the parent/guardian of the applicant.  


If the offer is not accepted within the above timeframe, the place is forfeited. The Principal will write to the parents/guardians informing them that the place in the class is no longer available for their child and that place in the class will now be offered to the applicant at the top of the waiting list.  Following acceptance of offers the parents/guardians will be invited to come to the school.


When all available places in the class have been accepted a letter is sent to the parents/guardians of the unsuccessful applicants indicating the reason.


The Principal of St. Marnock’s NS also notifies the successful applicant’s current school Principal of the decision to offer a place in the Language Class.

Letters to parents/guardians offering a place to their child or informing them that the application was invalid/unsuccessful will also be copied to the referral agent.


The school enrolment procedure is then followed and where pupils are eligible and wish to avail of transport provided by the DES the relevant forms for this are also completed. Applicants are accepted on the basis that they and their parents/guardians accept and understand the school Code of Discipline and all other school policies. The Language Class Teacher and SLT should be available to meet informally with parents/guardians at this stage. A further meeting is held in June where the parents/guardians and the child will be invited to attend an information and familiarisation meeting in the school with the Language Class Teacher and SLT.





In the letter to parents/guardians of children not offered places, parents/guardians are advised that they are entitled to appeal this decision, under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, to the General Secretary of the Dept. Of Education & Skills, Friar’s rd., Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Tel: 0761 108588. In general, appeals must be made within 42 days of receipt of the BOM’s decision.


NOTE:   Referrals are valid for one year only. If the application to enrol was unsuccessful, a new application must be made for the following year provided the child continues to meet Criteria A&B.





Role of the AAC in 2nd year & Discharge procedure:

At the first meeting (Pre-Intake) the Admissions Advisory Committee also undertakes to discuss the current Language Class pupils in terms of discharge or a further year placement in the Language Class.

The maximum number of years for a pupil in the Language Class is 2 years.

Those children deemed to be in continued need of a second year in the Language Class must continue to meet Criteria A (DES). The Language Class Teacher and the HSE SLT for the Language Class will provide evidence to the committee that the child will continue to benefit from placement in the Language Class and that this recommendation has been discussed with parents.


Children due for discharge from the Language Class at the end of the current school year, having completed either one or two years in the Language Class, will also be discussed at this meeting. The Language Class Teacher and SLT will provide information to the Committee regarding current assessment results; current diagnosis; parental/guardian involvement in the discharge plan; future school placement and transition plan to mainstream school or other placement where appropriate; future SLT pathway for continued Speech and Language Therapy intervention or other therapeutic supports required. They will also provide evidence that all these areas have been discussed and planned with the child’s parents/guardians.


The AAC will make recommendations to the BOM regarding discharges after year 1 and second year placements.  The Principal on behalf of the BOM will send a letter to the parents/guardians of all current pupils during the final school term confirming in writing the BOM’s decision.

A copy of the letter to parents is sent to the child’s previous School Principal or to the Principal of the school which they will attend on discharge from the St. Marnock’s SSLD Class.


Change of Diagnosis:

Where further Clinical or Educational assessments during the child’s Language Class placement indicate that the child no longer meets the DES criteria for the Language Class placement the child in question will be allowed to complete the current school year in the Language Class with discharge at the end of the current school year. The above discharge guidelines will also apply.


Spare Capacity

In the unlikely event where there is spare capacity in the Language Class because of insufficient eligible children, the Principal on behalf of the Board of Management may offer a place to a maximum of two pupils who do not meet the eligibility criteria but who could benefit from enrolment in the class for one year on a concessionary basis.  Such placements must be supported by the recommendation of a Speech and Language Therapist and/or Psychologist. The question of continued enrolment of these pupils for a second year can only be considered once all eligible pupils have been accommodated. The NCSE and the local SENO will monitor such situations. (Circular 0038/2007)



Review of Enrolment Policy for Language Class

The BOM of St. Marnock’s NS reserves the right to amend the policy.



Approved by Board of Management : _____________________ 


 Chairperson : __________________________________

9th February 2018

Amended 27th May 2018

Review each October