St. Michael's House Special National School Baldoyle

NCCA Guidelines for Pupils with General Learning Disabilities


This school follows the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Guidelines for Pupils with General Learning Disabilities. These guidelines have educational aims for all pupils:

  • To nurture each child in all dimensions of his/her life
  • To enable each child to live a full life and to realise their full potential through access to a broad and balanced curriculum
  • To ensure that all pupils' needs and abilities can be addressed, the curriculum guidelines specify three levels of attainment:

  • Attending – pupils who are learning to attend, listen and watch
  • Responding – pupils who are learning to respond and react to things they feel, hear, see etc.
  • Initiating – pupils who are learning to do things on their own

The subject areas laid out in the curriculum are:

  • Communication and Language
  • Mathematics/ Thinking skills
  • Social, Environmental and Science Education (SESE)
  • Music/ Visual Arts/Drama
  • Physical Education
  • Social, Personal and Health Education

Below is a brief outline of the main aims of each subject area of the curriculum

Communication and Language

  • to learn to use the senses to become more aware of people, objects and activities in the environment
  • to learn to indicate needs and desires
  • to learn to communicate with intention
  • to make everyday choices
  • to learn to use a functional or augmentative system of communication e.g. Lámh signs, objects of reference, picture-symbols etc

Mathematics/ Thinking Skills

  • to learn to act purposefully on the environment
  • to understand the idea of cause and effect e.g. “I made that happen”
  • to develop an awareness of sequence in activities, the daily or weekly routine
  • the beginning of awareness of numbers and patterns
  • early problem-solving

SESE (Social, Environmental and Science Education)

  • History:
  • sense of passage of time throughout the day, week, year
  • sense of own personal history
  • learning to recall special personal events through stories, photos and video
  • Geography:
  • Activities to help find way around familiar environment
  • to learn to associate different places with different activities
  • to develop an awareness of weather and seasonal changes
  • Science:
  • to develop an awareness of plants and animals in the environment
  • to develop an awareness of elements such as hot and cold, bright and dark, heavy and light

Visual Arts

  • to have fun and explore a variety of attractive materials and equipment
  • to use the senses to explore and appreciate the beauty of the natural environment


  • to listen to and appreciate sounds in the environment
  • to enjoy making sounds and performing


  • to participate, take a turn and cooperate in group activities
  • to improve sensory awareness through experiencing a wide range of costumes, props, stories and poetry

Physical Education

  • to control and coordinate body movement
  • to learn to use new fine and gross motor skills
  • activities include physiotherapy, cycling, walking, standing, stretching, holding, reaching, dancing, swimming etc.

SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education)

  • Myself – how I look and what I can do
  • Myself and Others – my family and my friends
  • Myself and the Wider World – my school, my local community

Language and Communication:

The content of the language curriculum is presented in one strand:

Oral Language

The elements of Oral Language are:

  1. Developing communicative relationships through language
  2. Understanding the content and structure of language
  3. Exploring and using language

Each of these elements has a number of Learning Outcomes. See pages 30-34 of Primary Language Curriculum.

Each Learning Outcome is divided into Progression Milestones a-e (junior and senior infants) and d-h (first and second class). See page 51 of Primary Language Curriculum.

Each Progression Milestone is in turn divided into Progression Steps. See page 65 of Primary Language Curriculum

Most of our students will be focusing on the Progression Milestones a-e. The above can also be accessed at the following link;

Furthermore, there is currently a draft early a Progression Milestone which is suitable for many of our students. This can be accessed at the following link;

Also the Special Education Needs Pathways (also found in the above link) can be used in combination with the above to support curriculum planning.

Senior students have the opportunity where appropriate to partake in the new Junior Cycle Level 1 Communication language and Literacy.

Communication underpins all learning and is fundamental to the capacity to transfer learning. Communication and language form the foundation for all other PLUs. Learning in this unit covers both verbal and non-verbal ways of receiving and giving information. Language development requires social interaction between the student and a communication partner. Some of the students in this cohort may first need to be alerted to the fact that they live in a world outside of their own body. Communication for these students can be enabled and progressed with aids like augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), e.g. visual and object cues, verbal prompts, facial expressions, gestures, sign language (such as ISL), electronic devices, Braille (or Moon ) and the written form. Through developing communication skills students enhance their social interactions and improve their self-esteem.
Students undertaking L1LPs should be exposed to a broad literacy experience. This definition of literacy includes multi-modal literacies encompassing spoken, printed, visual and digital literacies.

Willie Nolan Road, Baldoyle, Dublin, D13 WR90.
01 832 3043
RCN 20204614
Roll Number 18210K
© 2024 St. Michael's House Special National School Baldoyle