The guidelines have been developed in collaboration with schools that have developed expertise and innovative practice based on their experience of what is appropriate and what works for the students in question. They are intended for use by all teachers and should also be accessible to a range of other personnel directly involved with the education of the student. These include parents/guardians, special needs assistants (SNAs), therapists, management staff, guidance counsellors, and other relevant professionals.
The students in question participate in a range of settings: in mixed-ability classes and special classes in post-primary schools, and in various types of classes and groups in special schools. One of the key ideas about learning programmes is that they should achieve the best balance possible between students encountering broad experiences and addressing their specific needs. Achieving and sustaining this balance in the design and running of programmes is a challenge – while special schools may be well placed to support the degree of flexibility proposed, mainstream post-primary schools that are structured, scheduled and organised to support the needs of groups of students rather than individuals often find the task of achieving the balance quite challenging.