What’s so special about Catherine McAuley National School? Our school caters for children with Dyslexia who have average or higher intelligence and are identified as being at or below the 2nd Percentile in terms of their real word reading ability. The combination of these factors would indicate a particularly severe form of dyslexia. Students who meet these criteria may apply for a place at our school. Their report must also recommend their suitability for placement in a reading school. Placement is for two years.
Catherine McAuley National 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. Our 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 placement 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 small group expert tuition, learning to manage their difficulties and to identify their own best strategies for learning. We use the Wilson Reading System to explicitly teach single sounds, sound blending and ultimately word attack skills, which are core areas of difficulty for children with dyslexia. (See https://www.wilsonlanguage.com/programs/wilson-reading-system/)
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.
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 National 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 National 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: name, full home address and contact numbers as well as the name of the pupil's current school.
Applications must be received by the last day of the first term, in order to be considered for the following September.
Decisions in relation to enrolment are usually finalised by February/March for the following September. This is due to NCSE deadlines for enrolment and transport applications. Currently we have 99 places in total at Catherine McAuley National School.