The author realises that there is no single "magic bullet" intervention that will directly meet the academic and social needs of all students. It is important therefore, to establish the aim and the desired outcome of the intervention programme and to remember that no child is beyond help. Once the needs of an individual student and/or the entire student population are understood, it important for educators to be familiar with specific intervention strategies that are evidence based (Kratochwill & Stoiber, 2000). It is vital that one respects developmental, cultural, linguistic, and gender differences among students when selecting and implementing intervention programmes (Jimerson, Pletcher, Kelly 2006). Knowing what works, how to implement them can help shift the balance between the risk and protective factors that shape a child's ability to thrive (Shinn, Walker and Stoner, 2002).
Roscommon Community College was identified by government as a school operating within a disadvantaged community. With a high student population of socio-economically disadvantaged attending the school, the schools was designated as a DEIS (Delivering of Equality of Opportunity In Schools) school in 2005. DEIS is a governmental action plan which focuses on educational inclusion. This initiative focuses on addressing the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities from pre-school through to second level education (3 to 18 years). The action plan is, therefore, one element of a continuum of intervention to address disadvantage.
The action plan is grounded in the belief that:
every child and young person deserves an equal chance to access, participate in and benefit from education
each person should have the opportunity to reach her/his full educational potential for personal, social and economic reasons and
education is a critical factor in promoting social inclusion and economic development.
The following existing schemes and programmes have been integrated into the School Support Programme (SSP) over the past five years:
Early Start (Pre-School)
Giving Children an Even Break (incorporating the primary Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and Breaking the Cycle)
The Support Teacher Project
The Home/School/Community Liaison Scheme
The School Completion Programme
The Disadvantaged Areas Scheme for second-level schools and related projects in second-level schools supporting access to third-level.
(Appendix ?, DEIS - Action Plan
Department of Education and Science, 2005)
Roscommon Community College has had the benefit of the DEIS intervention strategies (Appendix 1) for the past couple of years During this time the author has witnessed the physical, emotional, social, academic benefits and overall well-being that this intervention has brought for students and the school environment. Previous to the implementation of the DEIS strategies the school was far away from aspiring to increasing academic attainment when at least 40% of the student population were without fundamental basics such as nutrition, literacy and numeracy skills, etc. Five years on, the author feels that the school is now in a strong position to implement an academic intervention programme (Table 1.1) and increase academic standards in the school. While it is not possible to use all interventions that have been proven to enhance social and academic competence in students, from the authors research in the area of prevention and intervention strategies and her own personal experience at both teaching and management levels, she believes that the following model (as described below) which is multi-faceted, addresses the social and academic needs of her students. When students's needs are addressed, school success will increase (Jimerson, Pletcher, Kelly 2006). In addition, students' responses to the intervention should be carefully monitored so that failed educational activities and interventions can be modified or discarded. (Elliott, Witt, Kratochewill, & Stoiber, 2002). Children develop differently, adopting one singular model will not address the needs of all students in the population. However, the author feels that by using her Academic Intervention Model (AIM: Table 1.1) in association with the DEIS model which has been implemented across multiple levels in her school, will increase the social and academic performance of her students.
ACADEMIC INTERVENTION MODEL
AIM is an abbreviation for Academic Intervention Model, a programme designed by the author to provide a student-centered, academically supportive environment that helps students investigate, research, test and develop their social, educational and career needs. Through the understanding and development of 'self' it is hoped to promote personal growth, social awareness and academic excellence. This is achieved with the support of students, teachers and parents who help the educational community evolve and where all members are valued and respected as equal stakeholders. The stakeholders will be recognised as the AIM team and will consist of the following people:
Programme Advisor (author)
Career Guidance Counsellor
School Completion/Home School Coordinator
Student and Parent
TABLE 1.1: ACADEMIC RECOGNITION MODEL (AIM)
Academic Monitoring & Mentoring
The six steps of AIM are as follows:
STEP 1 - ATTENDANCE: Induction meeting.
STEP 2 - REGISTRATION: with the AIM Programme Advisor, Study Skills and Evening Study Coordinators. Attendance of parent and student at the initial one-to-one meetings with the PA.
STEP 3 - UNDERSTANDING SELF: Review of Primary School Assessment Records: Sigma C and Micro T Tests, Continual Yearly Assessments. Review of Entrance Exam Results, Completion of an Educational Needs Analysis, Academic Self-Image Scale, Self-Esteem Inventory DATS, Personality and Behavioural Tests. Discussion with Resource Teacher. Preparation of Educational Needs Report by AIM Coordinator.
STEP 4 - ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING: Attend STEPS PS2 Programme. Report on the findings of the Educational Needs Report to student and parents/guardian. Arrange meeting with Career Guidance Counsellor. Attend Study Skills Seminar, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP), Daily attendance at Evening Study. Attendance at University/College Open Days. Goal setting through career aspiration.
STEP 5 - ACADEMIC MONITORING/MENTORING: Creating a supportive and enriched academic environment for students by regular mentor meetings, seminars and workshops. Open-door policy when teachers/students are experiencing difficulty. Completion of student CAO form.
STEP 6 - ACADEMIC RECOGNITION: Ongoing assessment is a major component of academic success for students. Recognition of academic achievement and discussion on areas where improvement is needed with the PA, teachers and parent teacher meetings. Review of CAO form with student, PA and Career Guidance. Attendance at the Annual Student Award Ceremony. ePortal - Student Database Management System will assist the PA in the constant monitoring of attendance at school and evening study programme. Student attitude and behaviour. Assessment results.
DEIS Second-Level Schools Intervention Strategy :
an additional â‚¬1m will be made available for financial support for the 150 second-level schools participating in the SSP, with the support provided per school taking account of level of disadvantage and relevant financial supports currently in place
an additional â‚¬0.25m will be made available under the School Books Grant Scheme to second-level schools participating in the SSP and with the highest concentrations of disadvantage. This funding will be aimed primarily at supporting the establishment, development and ongoing operation of book
loan/rental schemes. The number of schools to be targeted under this measure in Phase 1 will be decided following consideration of the results of the identification process
additional funding will be made available to support the development and implementation of whole-school literacy and numeracy strategies under the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP)
the 100 second-level schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage will be targeted to benefit from the Home/School/Community Liaison (HSCL) and School Completion Programme services where they are not already in receipt of these services
40 additional whole-time equivalent posts will be provided for guidance counselling, targeted at supporting junior cycle students, in second-level schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage. The number of schools to be targeted under this measure, and the criteria for allocation of the posts, will be decided following consideration of the results of the identification process
the JCSP Demonstration Library Project, in which 11 schools are currently participating, will be extended to a further 10 schools. These will be selected from among the schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage
school planning and target-setting measures will also be developed in the above group of 10 schools and liaison with school principals' networks at second-level will be take place in this context.