What’s so special about Catherine McAuley School? Our school caters for children with Dyslexia who have average or higher intelligence and are identified as being close to the 2nd Percentile in terms of key aspects of literacy (Word/Letter/Sound Recognition, Reading, Writing, Spelling). The combination of these factors would indicate a particularly severe form of dyslexia. Students who meet these criteria may apply for a place on our two-year intensive support programme.
Catherine McAuley School is a primary school and children must be at least 8 years old to attend. Children attend from all over the greater Dublin area, even extending to Kildare and Meath. Designated buses bring the students from their homes in and out of the city centre, using the bus lanes to shorten journey times. Catherine McAuley School has the same standardised school year as other National Schools and the school day runs from 8.50am to 2.30pm.
We provide a two-year intensive programme to address the challenges of severe dyslexia, supporting the students in raising their literacy levels and maintaining their self-esteem. Students benefit from small classes and daily one-to-one expert tuition, learning to manage their difficulties and to identify their own best strategies for learning. We use the Wilson Programme to build up phonemic awareness and word attack skills, which are core areas of difficulty for children with dyslexia. (See www.wilsonlanguage.com/FS_PROGRAM_MainPage.htm )
We help the children to understand their difficulties, coping with them and overcoming them to ensure access to learning; always aiming for them to achieve in each and every aspect of their education to the fullest extent and in line with their potential. We also help students to identify their own strengths, providing the basis for genuine confidence and self-belief which in turn strengthens their ability to deal with the challenges. As well as having difficulties with reading and writing, oral language skills may also need attention and we place a strong emphasis on developing these. We use a range of evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning, selecting the most appropriate for students with dyslexia. Active learning, assistive technology, motivation techniques, confidence building and social and emotional development programmes, among others, form part of our approach to dealing with, and living with, dyslexia.
Some children with dyslexia also have difficulty with Maths, while some do not. Students in our school have a range of Maths ability from very weak to excellent and we cater for this range of difference through a combination of class lessons, small group and individualised computer-based programmes. Maths language is given particular attention as it can be a frequent source of further confusion for students with dyslexia.
Curriculum subjects taught All subjects on the primary school curriculum are taught at the appropriate class level for each pupil group, with the exception of Irish. Arising from their particular diagnosis, and in line with Department of Education and Skills direction, all students at Catherine McAuley School are exempt from the study of Irish. Such an exemption carries on through their education to post-primary and beyond. This does not mean that they may not study or participate in learning Irish but they are not obliged to do so, and they do not have to sit state examinations in Irish, Swimming is part of our school curriculum. It is a vital life-skill and excellent for the development of coordination, as well as being a life-long healthy pursuit. Creativity in its many forms, art, craft, music, drama, environmental studies, science and discovery learning can be particular interests and strengths for our pupils and so we promote and nurture them.
Because of our central location, we make great use of the wide range of cultural and educational amenities in close proximity to the school – the Science Gallery, Natural history Museum, National Museum, Art Gallery, Concert Hall, excellent libraries, parks and historical buildings. Engaging immediately and actively with the learning environment is particularly effective with our students and we are blessed to have so much on our doorstep,
The Application Process:
To start the application process, a copy of the educational psychologist’s report which diagnoses severe Dyslexia should be forwarded to the principal of Catherine McAuley School. This can be done directly by a parent or guardian. It is also possible for a school principal or educational psychologist, with the permission of the parents or guardians, to send us a report. It is most important to ensure that clear contact details are enclosed with it.
The principal will consider the report and respond, having consulted with the Applications Committee and the Board of Management. It may be possible to discuss applications over the phone but without direct access to the educational psychologist’s report, it is not possible to give a full response. If a pupil meets the criteria, they are invited in to visit the school with their parents or guardians to discuss enrolment and to gain an understanding of how the programme works.
Decisions in relation to enrolment are usually finalised by May for the following September. Applications can be considered at any time and will be included in a rolling waiting list, which may be referred to should vacancies arise. Currently we have 99 places in total at Catherine McAuley School for our two-year programme.