Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Colm Hofler from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Colm Hofler

Chemical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Colm Hofler
Within the building materials industry there are opportunities for people with very different backgrounds.

Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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Disability - School & College Guide
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School & College Guide

NEW DARE information video 2016

Fewer than 1% of students in Ireland now attend a special school. In the vast majority of cases mainstream schools are the first choice for parents of children with special educational needs. 

There is a range of international human rights legislation and agreements which supports inclusive education, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and the UNESCO Salamanca Statement (1994). 

Schools can access a range of supports to address the needs of students with special educational needs. Every mainstream school has a learning support teacher service to complement the work of the class or subject teacher. In addition every school can apply for additional resource teaching hours or care supports to provide for students with more complex learning or care needs. (Source: NCSE, 'Choosing a School', 2013).

Responsibility for education services lies with the Department of Education and Skills. 

All children in Ireland have a constitutional right to free primary education. Children with special educational needs have the right to free primary education up to age 18. Children with disabilities are entitled to avail of free secondary education in the same way as other children. There are also specific arrangements in place for those with special educational needs.

The EPSEN implementation report (NCSE, 2006) estimated the overall prevalence of combined special educational needs categories within the education system at almost 18 per cent:

  • 8%  with mental health difficulties (including emotional and behavioural disorders, mental illness and psychological disturbance)
  • 6% with specific learning disabilities (including dyslexia, dyscalculia)
  • 2% with intellectual/general learning disabilities (1.5% mild; 0.3 % moderate, 0.1% severe, 0.02% profound)
  • 1% with physical and sensory disabilities (in particular speech and language disorder, cerebral palsy)
  • 0.5% with autistic spectrum disorders

Under EPSEN, current educational policy determines that students with special educational needs should be included, as much as possible, in mainstream classes and withdrawn for individual or small-group teaching only when it is clearly in their interests or where appropriate education for them or other students cannot be provided in the mainstream class.

Overall, there are three main types of provision to meet the range of
educational needs found among students in primary and post-primary schools in Ireland:

  • mainstream classes
  • special classes in mainstream school and
  • special schools

Wherever a child is placed, educational placements should be flexible and should be reviewed periodically as a student’s needs change.

In this area, we consider the transition from Primary School to Second Level Education for students with a disability and/or special learning needs and outline the educational supports and options available.

The section also covers the tranistion from Second Level to Third Level education, outlining the different further education and training options available. 

Video: Gives the background to both Dare & Hear 

Follow the menu items for detailed information. We will continue to update and improve the information in this section going forward.

Useful Links
National learning Network (NLN) 
Non-Government training organisation with centres in almost every county in Ireland. Each year, 5,000 people, including many who may otherwise find it difficult to gain employment, come to learn and study with NLN and to develop the skills to move forward
Choosing a School - A Guide for Parents and Guardians of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs 
Information Publication from the National Council for Special Education(NCSE), 2013.
Useful Links:
Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
Student Finance