Teacher, learning support

Usually based in primary and post-primary schools, learning support teachers focus on the provision of supplementary teaching to pupils who require additional help. They work with pupils in groups or one-to-one, either in the classroom or in a learning support room.

Their work involves planning and implementing effective teaching strategies, liaising with parents, staff and other relevant professionals.
They are closely linked with and may share duties with special educational needs teachers.

The work can be intensive as a lot of one-to-one tuition is required. Self-motivation, organisation, creativity and enthusiasm are vital qualities in the role. The standard route into this area is to train as a mainstream teacher at primary or post-primary level, then gain experience in mainstream teaching before obtaining a qualification in learning support.

Job description

Work activities

  • Helping pupils to cope with and overcome problems that arise because of learning difficulties.
  • Developing and fostering the appropriate skills and social abilities to enable the optimum development of pupils.
  • Encouraging students to develop self-confidence and independence, and to reach their potential.
  • Adapting the National Curriculum and conventional teaching methods to meet individual needs.
  • Uing audio-visual materials and computers to stimulate interest and learning.
  • Panning and delivering lessons, setting and marking assignments.
  • Asessing and recording children’s progress.
  • Working as a team-member within the wider school staff and liaising with other relevant individuals such as educational psychologists and parents.

Work conditions

Travel: not a major feature of the job.
Working hours: Vary depending on school and level of class taught class.
Location: most opportunities exist in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: unlikely.

Typical employers

  • Schools, primary and secondary level
  • Special needs schools.

Career development

Promotion to positions such as special duties teachers and assistant principals can be achieved at an early stage though a current suspension on promotion is in effect at time of writing. In addition all teachers can compete for posts as deputy principal or principal.

Salaries

An incremental salary scale operates with additional allowances payable depending on qualifications and additional responsibilities.

Republic of Ireland:

Northern Ireland: Salaries Pdf

Entry requirements and training

Entry requirements

Qualifications vary across primary and secondary components of the education system. All learning support and resource teachers either at primary or second level are required to be recognised by the Teaching Council as being qualified to teach in either the mainstream primary sector or qualified to teach students with special educational needs or students requiring learning support in the primary sector.

Postgraduate study

While a pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not required to work in SEN, the Combined Post Graduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs is a one-year, part-time postgraduate programme of training in inclusive special needs education for teachers working in special schools, special classes, or as resource and learning support teachers in mainstream primary and post-primary schools and other educational services. The course is offered by: St Patrick’s College, Church of Ireland College of Education, St Angela’s College, Mary Immaculate College, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork.

This programme is open to all serving teachers who are employed in a position funded by the Department of Education and Science and who provide learning support and resource teaching in recognised educational services. Teachers serving in special schools and special classes are also eligible to apply.

Specific entry requirements

Applicants to the Combined Post Graduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs should have satisfactorily completed their probationary period and hold a position in a sanctioned post in an area of special education or learning support, or be about to take up such posts.

Training

Further training is provided through in-service courses. Additional specialised programmes are also on offer in a number of colleges of education and universities.

Tips for applications

Job applications must be well prepared and error free.

Skills and qualities

  • Highly conscientious and committed to the highest standards of professional service.
  • Creative, friendly, caring, optimistic and adaptable.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to establish a good working relationship with students.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Caring and motivated by the best interests of the students.
  • Energy and enthusiasm to engage students.
  • Willing to engage in ongoing professional development.
  • Can relate well to different groups of students of different ages and ability levels.
  • Creativity, self-belief and the ability to maintain discipline.