Lissycasey National School are looking to expand their dedicated special needs unit, with an application for a building extension currently out to tender.
The unit, Líos na nÓg, caters for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and is comprised of two classes: Réaltaí Beaga and Realtaí Móra.
Principal Bríd Finnegan comments that the new extension feeds into the school’s mantra of “what’s necessary for some is beneficial for all” and that the opening of Líos na nÓg has really changed how the school operates.
Bríd informs that land was acquired by Fergal Hehir and P.J Kelly on the East of the school grounds in order to accommodate the extension. The brief includes plans for an ASD unit with two special classes and one mainstream classroom. The additional space requirement arose from an increase in the student body and the opening of two special needs classes.
Lissycasey N.S currently caters for 171 pupils and Bríd expects a total of 177 pupils to be registered in September 2022. The extension, which will be fully funded through the Department of Education is expected to take eight months to finish. The Lissycasey N.S Board of Management has been granted permission for a single prefab, which will be located at the front of the school and will operate as a temporary classroom whilst construction of the new extension takes place.
Since taking over as principal in 2015, Ms. Finnegan has prioritised upgrading the school’s facilities. She states that the newest extension has been a long time coming and that the teaching staff are fantastic, particularly the Special Need’s Assistants (SNA’s) with massive experience and training in assisting children with ASD.
“I had no idea that I was going to be opening special classes, that was not on the radar at all. We didn’t think it would be feasible for us until it emerged that there were children in the parish who would be coming to the school. It has been the most important thing I have ever done in my teaching career. I’ve learned more from these children and this way of teaching than I ever have in my career,” she stated.
These teaching practices have translated into the mainstream classroom and have benefited children who wouldn’t ordinarily go through the system. Ms. Finnegan lauds the support of a “really interested parent body, who are invested in education.”
Due to current school closures, teachers within Lissycasey N.S are conducting classes online, with every pupil being catered for through daily interaction. “Families are putting in great work and we are satisfied that we are doing what we can,” she adds.
Tender is expected to return in mid-February and Ms. Finnegan hopes that all going well, the new extension could be completed by January 2022. With building space maximised out on the grounds, she intends to turn her attention to redeveloping the school grounds and flattening out the yard, if future funding becomes available.