Admissions Policy Language Class



The Good Shepherd Language Class is a class in a mainstream primary school, which caters for the educational and speech and language needs of children with specific speech and language disorder. Language classes are jointly run by the Departments of Skills and Department of Health & Children. The classes are staffed by a full-time primary teacher, and the children receive cycles of direct therapy and indirect support (through working with teacher and parents) from a part-time HSE Speech/Language Therapist.

As governed by DES rules there are a maximum of seven children in a language class in any one year. Language classes follow the regular primary school curriculum with the exception of Irish. Children attending a language class may integrate with their peers from mainstream classes for some subjects, during break times and for school activities such as concerts/ school tours.


Specific Speech & Language Disorder/ Developmental Language Disorder occurs when a child experiences severe difficulty developing their communication skills (understanding and/or using spoken language) and does not improve with regular speech and language therapy. It is not caused by:

  • General learning difficulties
  • Hearing impairment
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Physical disability

Children with SSLD may also experience literacy difficulties i.e. problems learning to read, spell and write.


The Good Shepherd NS accepts referrals for Language Class placement from SLT and psychologists only. Children referred for Language Class placement consideration should meet the following criteria as described in the DES Circular 38/07:

The child’s non-verbal / performance ability should lie within the average range or above (i.e. non-verbal IQ of 90 or above) as identified by a psychologist on a standardised assessment of cognitive/intellectual functioning.

2. The child should be identified as presenting with any of the following by a speech and language therapist:

  • Level of performance in one or more of the main areas of language development at two standard deviations or more below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level, on a standardised test of language.
  • Performance on a standardised test of speech development at – 2SD or more.

3. The child’s language difficulties should not be due to:
  • primary emotional / behavioural disorder
  • primary physical disability
  • primary hearing disability (hearing threshold for speech-related frequencies should be 40dB)

4. The child should not present with emotional / behavioural problems of a degree that might impact negatively on the effective functioning of the class.

5. The speech and language therapist initiating or involved in the referral should be satisfied that:

  • The child has attended a minimum of 6 sessions of one-to-one speech & language therapy within 9 months of the closing date for referrals.
  • The child must be at least 4 years of age on/before 1st April in the enrolment year.
  • The child must live within the designated catchment area of the HSE, Dublin South East, Dublin South Central & Dublin South West. (south of the River Liffey and within the M50)


Referrals for Language Class placement are made by a SLT/ psychologist. 6 copies of each referral application form and a covering letter must be directed to the school principal before the annual deadline as advertised on the annual admission notice on the school website.

See Appendix C for referral pack.

If a referral meets the criteria for language class placement, the application then goes forward for discussion, ranking and selection at the annual Language Class Admissions Meeting. Members of the Admissions/Management Committee allocate places available in the language class based on agreed criteria: These include:

  • Severity of the SSLD
  • Age and readiness of the child
  • The degree to which the disorder impacts on child’s academic performance and social skills
  • Suitability of language class placement for the child at that time.

Please note** Referral does not guarantee that a child will secure a Language Class place. There is a maximum limit of 14 places in our language class at any time, and each child referred is usually one of many to be considered. As children may avail of 1 / 2 year placements the number of places available annually can change.


Completed ‘Referral to Language Class’ form (see form attached; includes parent consent form).

  • A Psychology Report, within 2.5 years of referral date, that includes results of a comprehensive assessment of intellectual ability. Results should indicate non-verbal performance ability within the average range or above. Percentile ranks, index scores etc and Interpretation of the child’s presentation are needed.
  • Speech & Language Therapy Report (written within 3 months of referral date) confirming a diagnosis of DLD/Developmental Language Disorder (may include severe phonological speech disorder). Please include:-
  • Case History summary including any family history of speech, language or learning difficulties. If there have been other developmental difficulties eg hearing eg motor coordination, please ensure reviews are up-to-date and that any onward referrals needed are made prior to Language Class referral e.g. ENT, OT.
  • Specific information in the case of children who are bi/multilingual (e.g. languages used, for how long, in what contexts). If appropriate, clinical judgment should be described as to differential diagnosis between second language learning and a DLD. (Please see the relevant IASLT Guidelines 2016)
  • Brief summary of the child’s educational history and the impact of the language/communication difficulties on his/her ability to access or progress with the curriculum effectively. Please also detail any support needs incl any support provision already in place (e.g. support teacher/ SNA).
  • Brief history of the child’s speech & language therapy to date. Include previous assessments (basic results), key areas of therapy focus, the level/nature of parental involvement and outcomes over time.
  • The child’s current profile including most recent*standardised assessment results of receptive and expressive language development and of speech if relevant. (*assessed within the last 6 months). Subtest scores, index scores, percentile ranks, and the confidence interval used, should be included. In the case of pragmatic/social language skills, use a checklist if possible and briefly describe key areas.
  • Where relevant, indicate the severity of the child’s speech challenges i.e. current level of intelligibility, phonological system, oral-motor functioning as relevant. A short transcription can also be very helpful.
  • Briefly describe the impact of the DLD on the child’s functional communication and emotional/ social development. Give clear, objective, real-life examples eg daily communication with family, peers.
  • Diagnosis and Recommendations: The child’s current diagnosis should be clearly stated along with recommendations as to the need for placement in Language Class based on severity and impact.
  • Please also include any co-occurring disorders/needs (see IASLT Position Paper on DLD (2017)).
  • School/Pre-school Teacher’s Report which may convey the impact at this time of the child’s DLD on his/her educational progress and social-emotional development. Please find attached the report forms to share with the child’s teacher/s for this purpose. (includes corresponding parent consent form: teacher > parent).
  • Other Reports if relevant (e.g. OT, Audiology, ENT). Enclose up-to-date copies with parental consent.


Parents of successful applicants will be informed by the end of April. They will be required to pay for their child’s complete booklist, book rental fee and associated costs at this time. Parents will also be invited to attend a Welcome Morning in the school in late May of the year of enrolment. The school handbook and any other relevant information will be given to parents during this meeting, to help parents assist their child’s transition into the Language Class.


A full-time teacher is assigned to the class, and the class operates at a reduced pupil teacher ratio of 7:1. Eligible pupils may spend up to two years in such classes (DES Circular 0038/2007). It should be noted that the placement is for two years, with a possibility of leaving after one year. In an instance where there is spare capacity in a language class because of insufficient eligible application the Board of Management may offer a third year to a maximum of two pupils who could benefit from additional support in the class on a concessionary basis. Such placement must be supported by the recommendation of a speech & language therapist and/ or psychologist and sanctioned by the Admissions Advisory Committee.

The standard cycle for pupils is 1 – 2 years. Placement in the Language Class is reviewed annually. Parents are usually advised of their child’s progress in November parent /teacher meetings and further discussed at the Admissions / Management Meeting. Parents are typically informed of the Language Intake Committee’s decision prior to the 21st of March and advised to contact their child’s previous school to inform them of impending return. At the end of the placement, the children return to either their mainstream school or to a school of their parents’/guardians’ choosing. It is the responsibility of the parents/ guardians to ensure their child has a place secured in another school.


The BOM of the Good Shepherd National School recognises and upholds a parent’s right to appeal a refusal to enrol through the Appeal Procedures under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998. Upon receiving the BOM’s decision parents/guardians will be informed by the BOM of the procedure and timeframe involved for an appeal.

The procedures under Section 29 cannot be invoked until all procedures at local level have been exhausted.


Parents are encouraged to be involved with setting their child’s learning and speech/ language goals. They are expected to attend various meetings during the school year. These include meetings between the teacher, therapist and parent; between the parent and speech/language therapist; between the teacher and parent.

Home support is a necessary requirement of sustaining a Language Class place. This support ensures that agreed approaches/ strategies and homework are introduced and completed.