Over 3,300 deaf children (90% of the total) are mainstream-educated in Ireland with under 4% using sign language (#NCSE, 2011). Supports are provided by the visiting teacher service and from state hearing-services. Technology and digital tools are a major leveller in mainstream education and must factor when choosing a school for the children.
Schooling and communication, are two of the biggest decisions the family of a deaf child make. The topic is reviewed in the Irish Times (Feb. 11, 2011). Most parents in Ireland mainstream-educate their child at primary and post-primary level (all subjects), maybe with home tuition, or resource teaching during the school day.
School Pathways – The Need To Know
Others may send their child to mainstream school at primary stage with different approaches, and then to secondary school: less-often to a specialist school, or to the UK. A minority option is for the child to attend a specialist school for the Deaf for their entire education, and grow up with Deaf peers, using ISL as a first language (this impacts literacy).
Ireland’s current schooling options are:
Mainstream schools (90 per cent of deaf pupils)
- with a visiting teacher for deaf students
- supplemented by an on-site resource teacher –
- and if needed, a special-needs assistant (SNA) in the classroom
As a hybrid model, Australia’s units for deaf children at mainstream schools are now moving to offer auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) based supports but Ireland’s units significantly lag in this regard.
Special units for deaf children at mainstream schools in Ireland:
- Douglas Community School, Co Cork
- St Columba’s GNS, Co Cork
- Geashill Unit, Co Offaly
- Presentation Primary School, Tralee, Co Kerry
- Mounthawk Secondary School, Tralee, Co Kerry
- Darley National School, Cootehill, Co Cavan
- Ennis Community College, Co Clare
- Holy Family Junior National School, Ennis, Co Clare
Special schools for Deaf students in Ireland:
St Mary’s, Cabra, Dublin 7
St Joseph’s, Cabra, Dublin 7
The Mid-West School for the Deaf, Limerick