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 Deirdre Lavelle from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:


Deirdre Lavelle

Care Assistant

St. Michael's House

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  Deirdre Lavelle
It can take time to get to know people with learning disabilities, patience and good listen skills are very important.

The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Disability - Transition to Second Level
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Transition to Second Level

In Ireland, the majority of pupils transfer to second level school when they have completed the full first level, or primary school course – generally at about 12 years of age. For registration in a second level school, students must be aged 12 on 1 January in the first year of attendance.

The Second-level education sector comprises secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools. Each category of school has evolved from a distinctive historical context, and has a different ownership and management structure, but they have a great deal in common. All are largely State funded and they follow the same State prescribed curriculum and take the same State public examinations.

Second level education is typically a six-year cycle, taken between the ages of 12 to 18. The terms "Junior Cycle" and "Senior Cycle" are commonly used to describe the first three years and the second three years respectively.


The transition from primary to secondary school is a challenge for all students but especially for those with special educational needs.

At primary level, students are taught most, or all subjects by the same
teacher, and they remain in the same peer group and in the same classroom. Once they move to postprimary education, the focus is typically on the subject rather than pupil/class level. This means that students with special educational needs may be taught in different peer groups for different subjects, by different teachers and in different geographical areas of a larger school. This can create particular challenges for students with a disability, for example, who find it hard to interact with their peers or who have issues with mobility or vision.

A student who has been receiving special education support or resources while in Primary School is eligible for continuation of support at secondary level, once they continue to have a special educational need.

The same general provisions he/she received in primary school apply at Secondary Level. This typically includes specialist teaching from a Learning Support or Resource teacher.

This support is provided based on need, with the number of hours of support determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up in the last year of primary school.

(Note: IEPs are not as yet, a legal requirement in Irish Schools, as the EPSEN Act (2004) has not yet been fully implemented. However, a large number of schools and teachers of children with special educational needs have been using IEPs or similar individual plans for some time now).

In addition to the IEP there should  be a Transition Plan completed during the last year of primary school. The Transition Plan will devise the structure of transition to secondary school and may alter the IEP for a short period of time. If this happens there should be a team meeting in about six months or less to write the secondary school IEP. In general students in secondary school are eligible for the same supports as in primary school. This may include a Special Needs Assistant (SNA).

The following general principles are a useful guide in smoothing the transition:

  • Long-term planning is essential and should be conducted well in advance of the point of transition.
  • Parents and young people should be provided with the information to make an informed choice about future educational / lifelong learning settings. All options should be explored, including the continuum of special education provision.
  • Collaboration between the transition settings is crucial to ensure that all relevant information is shared and the necessary resources are put in place to facilitate a successful transition.
  • Support for transition can be provided by the SENO in collaboration with the relevant agencies/personnel.

The key element to making the transition a good experience is PLANNING:

  • Prepare – start planning for the transition early in the year, or in the previous school year
  • Explore - Go along to any planned visits or open days at the new school
  • Look more closely - Arrange a more formal visit to the school, to meet the Principal and key staff who will be involved
    • Discuss any worries you have about the transition
    • Discuss what the best preparation for the student might be
    • Identify the main issues that the school might need to address to help the student
    • Identify any available supports that the student might need/be able to access
    • Identify the type of approach that might help the student to overcome anxiety and settle in more efficiently
  • Work with the new school to help smooth the transition.


Useful Links
SESS - Special Education Support Service 
Article - How can I prepare students for the transition to post-primary school?
Useful Links:
Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
Student Finance