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Learning & Austistic Support Centres

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities


In St. Patrick’s we pride ourselves on the inclusive nature of our school; everyone is welcomed, everyone is valued, every child matters.  The staff in St. Patrick’s recognise and respond to the different abilities, aptitudes, interests and diverse needs of the pupils in our school.  We continually strive to improve outcomes for all of our pupils.  In doing so we recognise that some pupils require very particular supports.  i.e. provision additional to or different from that generally made for other children of the same age.

All staff in St. Patrick’s take responsibility for and care about children with additional needs.  Supporting children with SEND is an integral part of whole school planning and it is part and parcel of the role of the classroom teacher.  Our staff pride themselves on being adaptive, flexible and most importantly caring in their approach to children on the SEND register.  The SEND team in St Patrick’s made up of six key teachers: Mrs A Fegan (SENCo), Mrs M Quinn (Assistant SENCo), Mr D Mc Daid & Mrs M Lockhart (Learning Support Centre), Miss S Tracey & Miss R Convery (Autism Specific Centre).  These teachers work alongside an energetic and innovative team of over 50 classroom assistants who bring a wide range of skills and experiences to the school community.  The team prioritise pupil welfare and positive home school links.  Whilst these six teachers have specific responsibilities, all teachers support pupils with additional needs.

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Pupil Voice

Cathal Mc Atamney - Year 14

My name is Cathal and I am a sixth form student at St Patrick’s College in Maghera. I have had a great experience at the college, and I have received a lot of support from teachers and classroom assistants in the school. In sixth form the teachers were very flexible in allowing me to choose and even change my subject.

The travel and tourism teachers, Mrs Duddy and Mrs Scullion were extremely helpful in getting me caught up and organised with all the resources, as I started the course a little later than other pupils. My Business studies and ICT teachers have also been supportive and helpful in making sure that I had all the resources, and in keeping me on track with the deadlines.  If I need anything, nothing is ever to much bother.


Mrs Fegan has put in place access arrangements to ensure that I get enough support in all my exams. This is a great help to me and makes me feel at ease going in to all my tests. Everyone in my year group has also been helpful and nice to me throughout my time in the school from first year. They all make me feel included. I am involved with Ulster’s wheelchair hurling, I have told my peers all about this and they and found it really interesting. I have also recently got involved in wheelchair basketball in Cookstown Leisure Centre and I go every Sunday. I did very well in my GCSE’s, achieving 2 A’s, 5 B’s and a C*. This was down to the help of my classroom assistant Sarah and my subject teachers. The staff of St Patrick College make every pupil feel welcome and supported.

Transferring after Year 12

I transferred to St Patrick’s College in September 2022 to complete my A Levels. I chose St Patrick’s as it gave me more options for A-Level and I wanted new experiences and wider opportunities.

Since starting I have settled in really well and I have made new friends. I am really enjoying my A Level subjects, Health and Social Care and IT. The teachers have been really supportive, for example, it helps when I am given advanced notice of the work I have to do and the due dates are set out well in advance.

The classroom assistant Dearbhla has been a great support.  She has helped me with work which I have had difficulty understanding, and the teachers are always available if I need them. I have also been able to avail of extra time in exams which will be of great help.

I am really enjoying my time at St Patrick’s so far.

Rian O’Kane


An Inclusive school for pupils with Autism

Six years ago, in 2016, I was diagnosed with “Asperger’s syndrome”.

It didn’t change an awful lot about my day-to-day life. However, in school, I had different types of support put in place that made things a lot easier for me, and thankfully, I still have access to these in sixth form. Firstly, teachers understood my issues and commonly checked up on me in class to make sure that I wasn’t struggling to keep up. If I was struggling, they would take extra time to go over the topic with me, ensuring that I understood it. This extra support in class came in helpful, especially for subjects I am not good at or had little interest in, as my Autism would make learning more difficult if I did not enjoy the subject.

Around the end of year 12, I mentioned that I was struggling to keep my attention focused during exams, and that I felt that I did not have enough time to complete exams as well. I was helped with this by being allowed short breaks during the exams, these breaks did not take time out of the exam, instead, allowing me to have a small break and then go back to the exam refreshed, and without any disadvantages. This made the process of coping with exams easier, and I am glad it is in place as it makes the exams easier for me to handle.


Staff around the school are also very kind. They often talk with me to make sure that I am okay, and to check that I am doing well in classes. This support is also given from my friends in the school, some of which who have similar support from the school and understand some of my situations. The overwhelming support makes the new weight of A-Levels a lot easier to cope with.

The school also provides me with many opportunities to take part in different activities. As of now, I have taken part in two Autism Awareness fundraisers, and I also plan to go on the Romania Trip to help over there. These different activities help me build up different skillsets which I am thankful that the school has given me the opportunity to do.

Overall, the extra support that I get from the staff is extremely useful. It makes my time in the school much better and I hope that others who need similar support can get it as well in order to make the school a better place for everyone!

Ronan Darragh

SEN Contact

SEN Contact

Mrs Anne Fegan


Useful Links

Education Authority, Special Education:

SENAC: Special Educational Needs Advisory Centre:

Education Authority, Literacy Service:

British Dyslexia Association:

Autism Advisory and Intervention Services: Education Authority:

Middletown Centre for Autism:

Autism NI:

National Autistic Society:

JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications):

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is meant by Special Educational Needs?


In the 1996 Education Order, a child is described as having Special Educational Needs if they have significantly greater difficulty in learning than other children which calls for Special Educational Provision to be made (i.e. provision additional to or different from that usually made for children of the same age).A child also has SEN if they have a disability which calls for Special Educational Provision to be made.


2. How does the school support a child with Special Educational Needs?


If your child has additional needs, they will be placed on the SEN Register and the school’s SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) or Assistant SENCo will oversee their provision and monitor their progress through an Individual Education Plan.Provision is highly personalised and dependent upon the needs of the individual child.


3. Who decides if the child is placed on the SEN register?


The Education Authority explain that the school decides who is placed on the SEN register.At St Patrick’s we care very much about the views of parents and we meet with parents to discuss the needs of children and to agree how best to support them.


4. My child had a Statement in the Primary school.  What can I expect in Year 8?


Your child will have an Annual Review in Primary 7.This review will consider what your child will need to help and to support them as they make the transition to secondary school.The Education Authority (EA) will forward a copy of your child’s proposed Statement, or amended statement to their new school.The SENCo in St Patrick’s will meet with all parents of Statemented pupils in order to get a detailed picture of the needs of the child and to discuss provision for them at secondary level.


5. How does a child get classroom assistant support?


Classroom assistants are allocated to some children who have Statements of Additional Needs.The Education Authority decide the level of support which individual children receive.It is possible for an assistant to be shared between several children in the secondary school setting.


6. How does a young person access exam concessions e.g. extra time or a computer reader for GCSEs?


The St Patrick’s College Access Arrangements policy provides detailed guidance on the criteria set out to access examination concessions.The policy is based strictly on JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) regulations for examinations and assessments.


7. Why choose St Patrick’s College?


St Patrick’s college is built on an ethos of inclusion.We are a diverse community, supporting young people with a wide range of gifts and talents.We have a recognised ethos of ‘championing the child’ and the inspectorate have acknowledged that our pastoral structures are outstanding.In addition we challenge all our young people to be the very best they can be.The school has the capacity to offer a very broad and balanced curriculum, supporting children with a wide range of interests and ambitions.We have the staff and the expertise to put bespoke programmes of support in place.We believe in young people, we believe in partnership with parents and we engage dynamically with the community around us.All this is captured in our school motto “achieving excellent together.”


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