Special Needs Programmes

School Inclusion Program


Inclusive education means that all students in a school, regardless of their strengths or weaknesses in any area, become part of the school community. They are included in the feeling of belonging among other students, teachers, and support staff. The objective of the St Gerard's School Inclusion program is to prepare children for inclusion into mainstream schools by creating a classroom setting, curriculum and lesson formats similar to mainstream schools. There is special emphasis for the 6 to 8 year old age group for inclusion into Primary 1.
The curriculum is the same for all of the children. This means that the child who is challenged will participate in the social studies lesson, the science experiments and the music class, along with the other children. The child's life experiences will be enriched, and his/her ability to communicate and form relationships with his / her peers increase through inclusion.
Though the curriculum may be the same for all the children in the class, goals may be adapted, the characteristics of the task may change, and the information may be simplified. A child with challenging needs may be working on a parallel activity, but should participate in the same learning experience as the other children.

Admission Criteria for School Inclusion

The following admission criteria applies for the School Inclusion Program

Cognitive ability with an IQ of 70 and above with an appropriate level of language skills to access mainstream curriculum
No major behavioural challenges that will disrupt learning in a maximum class size of 8 to 12 students
Independent is self-help skills such as toileting and feeding

Functional Curriculum

The student with challenging needs has many opportunities to practice functional skills within the regular routines of the day. Those skills include how to play with other children on the playground, how to be quiet in the library, how to carry accurate messages from one person to another, how to respond when spoken to by an adult, how to share and take turns, how to eat lunch and clean up afterwards, and how to put on shoes and a coat.
However, the amount and type that will be required for each unit of the curriculum will vary according to the needs of the student, the subject matter to be covered and the lesson format being used. One student may be able to achieve the same goals as the other students, with small adjustments to the way in which the material is presented. Another student may be able to achieve a simplified form of the same goals. A third student may require goals that parallel the goals of the lesson but are presented at a more basic level.

Strategies for Instruction

There will be a range of abilities in the same class, and sometimes that range will be wide. Instruction will be such that students at all levels of thinking can be included and the materials and activities will be open ended to enable all students to participate.

Teaching Techniques

Some of the teaching techniques that will be used include
* Making the consequences for successful performance attractive.
* Using concrete manipulative materials to develop whole concepts.
* Encouraging peers to assist in thinking ways in which the student can accomplish a task.
* Involving the child to assist in lesson presentation, by participating in brainstorming, for example, or giving out materials.
* Providing a print outline of the main points that the student is to learn from listening to the lesson, reading a passage in a book, listening to a tape, or watching a video, with blanks to be filled in as the information is given.
* Allowing extra time for assignments and tests.
* Recognizing the length of time that the student can stay on task, then provide opportunities for breaks and teach the student an acceptable way to ask for a break.
* Providing written instructions of the steps to be followed to complete a task.
* Providing picture instructions of the steps to be followed to complete a task.
* Organizing the student's materials ahead of time.

Focus Area

* Classroom routines(e.g. copying from board, turn taking, etc.)
* Self-organization routines (e.g. managing bags., etc.)
* Foundational literacy and numeracy skills. (e.g. position concepts, thinking skills, reading, spelling)
* Use of Assistive Technology

School Readiness Assessment

At the end of the school inclusion program, the child can undergo a School Readiness Assessment with our psychologists. This assessment will reflect the child's readiness (anxiety management, self modulation, motivation, etc), level of functional communication, work habits, cognitive and social skills. The child's entry into mainstream will depend on the outcome of the assessment. St Gerard's will assist parents in the placement of students in mainstream primary schools.

Individual Education Program (IEP)

An Individual Education Program (IEP) is developed for a new child within the first 6 to 8 weeks of class commencement. The IEP is based on formal assessments and observations of the teachers and therapists and covers many areas of the child's development - social emotional development, language and literacy skills, fine / gross motor skills, cognitive development, self-help skills, etc.
The IEP describes goals in three or four high priority areas and serves as a way of monitoring the child's progress to these goals. It is also an ongoing record of the child's growth. The IEP is a guide to keep the teachers and therapists who work with the child on track. It helps the teacher link the student's high priority learning needs to the regular curriculum. The IEP is meant to be flexible so that goals can be changed if they are not sufficiently challenging, or modified if they are not achievable.


Zoo-phonics is the program of choice in St Gerard's for building reading and spelling skills at Nursery and Kindergarten levels. Zoo-phonics has been proven to help children become good readers and spellers through hearing (phono), speaking, (oral), seeing (visual), doing (kinesthetic) and touching (tactile). The program is supported with a wide variety of resource materials like flash cards, computer programs, songs. Children find Zoo-phonics fun because of the use of animal characters and body signals to identify sounds of letters.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology (AT) is a collection of technologies that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices to promote greater independence for people with disabilities by enabling them to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had difficulty accomplishing. AT can help to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Examples of AT include hearing aids, computer-related devices, and synthesizer software, etc. St Gerard's will provide appropriate type of Assistive Technology and associated tools to help our children learn effectively.