Delivered through blended learning, you can work full-time and study this Special Needs Assisting QQI Level 5 course. This qualification gives you the opportunity to qualify and work as a special needs assistant.
Start Date16th July 2022
QualificationQQI Level 5
Course Duration3 months
Are you interested in becoming a Special Needs Assistant? This course is suited to anyone who has an interest in Special Needs Education, whether to pursue it as a career or use the knowledge for personal or family reasons. Portobello Institute’s QQI Level 5 Minor Award Special Needs Assisting is a qualification that will allow you to work as a special needs assistant in schools, hospitals and care homes. During this course you will acquire not only knowledge but empathy and understanding crucial to your future role as support to persons needing assistance in their learning. This is a flexible learning course with online learning and supported weekend seminars allowing you to fit learning around your busy working and family life. You will also be required to complete 20 hours of work experience enabling you to get practical experience to compliment your studies. These factors, together with the one to one tutorial support, offer you a course that is accessible, affordable and achievable.
Why should I study this course?
The field of Special Needs Education is one of enormous variety and ever-changing needs. Portobello Institute wish to respond to the true needs within the sector by offering a course that will equip our students not only with knowledge but with empathy and understanding crucial to their future role as support to persons needing assistance in their learning. Our research in the field has found that Special Needs Assistants require practical skills and knowledge in a wide range of behaviours and abilities. Thus, we try to encapsulate the lifelong experience of persons with Special Needs within our courses, in Level 5 and in greater detail at Level 6.
Portobello Institute’s QQI level 5 Minor Award in Special Needs Assisting gives you the opportunity to learn from a range of experts all of whom are passionate about the field of special needs education. They bring their insight, depth of experience and passion for teaching to this course. During this course, you will learn to support and understand the process by which a child with learning, physical or behavioral needs learns. This qualification will allow you to work alongside a child with special needs in a school as well as care settings.
Who will recognise my qualification?
Upon completing this course, you will hold a QQI Level 5 Minor Award in Special Needs Assisting enabling you to work as an SNA. This course is an essential introduction to the role of an SNA and theories in special needs education that will prepare you for QQI Level 6 Minor award in special needs assisting should you wish to further your studies.
Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK
The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the qualifications frameworks in operation, Brexit will not impact this agreement. Further guidance on this framework is available here.
What will I study during this Special Needs Assistant – QQI Level 5 (July ’22) course?
During this course, you will learn about development and learning in children with special needs and about the role of an SNA. You will learn about child development and behaviour theories and how a range of activities can promote physical, social, emotional and intellectual development in children with learning, physical and behavioural disabilities. You will develop the capacity to work and communicate effectively with parents, families, colleagues and other professionals to safeguard, support and promote children’s learning, development and well-being.
During this programme you will cover the following topics:
The Role of the Special Needs Assistant
Equal Opportunities Child Development (Overview)
Theories of Learning and Behaviour
Physical and Intellectual Disabilities
Communications and Language Disabilities
The learning outcomes for this programme are as follows;
- Explore the role and responsibilities of the Special Needs Assistant
- Examine the qualities and skills of an effective Special Needs Assistant
- Examine relevant legislation in relation to disability
- Explore the rights of children with disabilities in relation to personal autonomy, participation and decision making
- Relate effectively and appropriately to children who present with additional needs
- Use care routines in feeding, toileting and general hygiene
- Maintain appropriate relationships with children parents, primary carers, teachers and other members of the multidisciplinary team
- Work effectively with children who present with disabilities under the direction of the classroom teacher
- Assist children with disabilities in a range of activities, ensuring equality of opportunity through working in a safe and professional manner
- Reflect on personal practice working with children, their parents or guardians and colleagues ensuring that children’s individuality is promoted and that their needs are met
For those that wish to progress to their Level 6 award in Special Needs we have scheduled a continuation course in each region to start approximately two weeks after the Level 5 course ends. Where possible we have left the course on the same day.
Who will I learn from?
“Working as a PM for EY & SNA means working in an ever-changing industry, as investment in the childcare industry in Ireland has been to the forefront in recent years. This investment is not unlike the investment made by students- as they invest in their future through their educational journey. Being involved in their journey is fulfilling as you watch them flourish over time and support them in achieving their goals”
While my initial third level education was in Business Management my career path took a turn when I became involved in fostering. The more research (for homelife benefits) I conducted in the areas of children with additional needs, child development, play activities etc., I realised that this was an area I had a keen interest in. From here I went onto firstly study a Level 5 in ECCE, to have the basis for further study within the area. Then I completed a H-DIP in ECEC which led me onto a Level 9 MA in Child, Youth and Family studies. I studied part time while working full time, and this has helped me immensely in understanding students journey on similar paths- it can be a struggle trying to balance working, reaching assignment deadlines, attending classes, along with daily home (and social!) life, but once you achieve your end goal it is worth it. Having also worked in various rooms in childcare settings, this added to my experience, skills, knowledge, and abilities. Working in the sector assisted me greatly (before I took up the role as Programme Manager) while I was tutoring with Portobello as I was able to impart knowledge and experience to students.
Why did you choose to work in education?
Having gone back to study myself many years after my initial education, my own experience contributes to understanding individual students needs and abilities. Everybody learns differently and it is beneficial in the educational industry to have an understanding that some people may be visual learners, while others may be kinaesthetic or auditory learners while some may learn through reading and writing. Match this understanding with various modes of course delivery, tutors who are passionate about their subject areas, are inclusive to all types of learners and this can only lead to a successful outcome for students.
Collaborating with and listening to students is also an important aspect within the education industry, we all have knowledge to offer and learn from each other, having had this experience myself while studying, this was always something I encouraged while tutoring. Facilitating students to share knowledge and experience while motivating and supporting them through their learning journey is all part of the role as an educator. These roles also become part of your role as a PM, you want to see everyone achieving their goal and you are there to help, guide, advise, support, motivate and encourage them throughout their time spent with the college.
Your experience as a Programme Manager.
Before a student embarks on their learning journey, Portobello takes the time to explore which mode of delivery suits an individual’s needs, abilities, and time available to study. While working as a PM with Portobello I have come across many inspirational students, some who have not studied in many years, some who have had learning difficulties, others may be changing industry entirely, while some just simply want more knowledge as a parent to help them in understanding their children’s needs. As a PM contributing to all student’s journey through listening, supporting, motivating, and encouraging them throughout their education is an important aspect and it is inspirational to see students achieving their goal.
Working with Portobello allows you to get to know students, which allows students to feel valued and everyone in the Institute is committed to supporting students on their learning journey. Portobello offers flexibility in course delivery, this is something which can be a deciding factor on choosing a course, students consider what fits their lifestyle and free time available to study. By offering blended, part time, full time, online or distance courses, this gives Portobello the ability to offer courses to suit a range of students needs.
- MA in Child, Youth & Family Studies
- H-Dip in Early Childhood Education & Care
- QQI Level 5 in Early Childhood Care & Education
- BBS Honours Degree in Business Management
Position: Special Needs Assisting lecturer
‘The heartfelt hero, using their talents to help students discover their own. Dedicating their time and energy each day to the students in their care, and doing it all while meeting the individual needs of many.’
As I am a Special Needs Assistant for the past 16 years, I feel I can give the student a true insight into the classroom environment. I went back to education myself in later life and after completing my Arts and Humanity degree focusing on Family Studies, the urge to stay as an SNA was so strong, so when Portobello came up to teach the Level 5 and Level 6 Special Needs assisting courses, it was a dream come true In so many ways. I have had a very eventful life to date, travelling the world, working in very varied work environments for example Dublin Airport, Hospitals, and an array of other careers, one of which is being a mother to three teenager/young adults, I had a child with special needs myself who passed away very early in life so Special needs is very close to my heart. I have passion for the career and the children in my care. I hope anyone that I am lucky enough to teach will benefit from that passion.
Since taking the position of Tutor with Portobello I have encountered so many people with the same ethos as myself not only with colleagues but with students alike, to be Special Needs Assistant takes a very special person, to change children’s lives for the better is so rewarding. I could not have chosen a better college to teach in and I am truly grateful to assist as many people as possible to progress in this challenging, rewarding career.
Fran’s Teaching Philosophy
I am a very relaxed Educator, I like to make students feel comfortable and to be in an environment where no question is a silly question, I like to exude passion for special needs children and for all children in education. I would love my students to leave the course with all the knowledge necessary to become the best they can be. I also want students to have the urge and longing to progress and further their education after completing the course and to make sure they have the confidence to pursue that. I believe that teachers should create a positive and safe atmosphere for all their students, and be the best teacher they can be by using the different teaching strategies, being prepared for any situation, and always doing what’s best for the students.
- BA Hons, Arts and Humanity focusing on family studies
- Special Needs Assisting Level5 and Level 6
- Dyslexia, Dyspraxia awareness certificates
- PECS and ABA Certificates
How will I learn?
Blended Learning takes the schedule of a traditional face to face learning programme and re-structures it to reduce the contact tuition time by introducing more online learning together with one to one tutor support. This mode of delivery includes optional webinar sessions. The reduction in classroom attendance allows you to work full-time and balance the requirements of this programme with home and work.
Other delivery modes available
Portobello Institute’s SNA course is delivered with 2 webinars held on a Saturday & the remainder delivered online.
What does Webinar & Online learning mean?
In response to the current Covid-19 shutdown, Portobello Institute has re-designed this course for delivery as an e-learning and Webinar course. We have extensive experience delivering e-learning courses and have the resources that are specifically designed for delivering courses to an e-learning audience. Your course will run at a specific time each week when you will log-on and your tutor will deliver the content over a 2 hour period with a break of 10 minutes half-way through. You can ask a question at any stage and hear the questions and responses of other students attending this course. Your tutor is available up to 20 minutes before class so you may log-on early and seek support if there are any areas of the content that you need additional support with. Alternatively, our full-time programme manager is available to support you throughout your learning journey.
Course materials are structured to be accessed on a week by week basis and are available to download from our e-learning platform as you progress through the course. Assignments are all designed for completion at home and once completed, you will upload these to the elearning platform. Feedback and results are posted here for you to access too.
You will have the opportunity to engage with your fellow course colleagues as if you were in class together – all from the comfort and safety of your chosen environment. Webinars are available to download at a later stage should you miss a class making this a very flexible and convenient mode of learning.
What is a Webinar?
A webinar, in the context of online learning, is a lecturer delivering a presentation or class online to a group of students. We use specifically designed elearning software so you can participate in the class just as if you were present in the same room. You can ask a question to the lecturer at any stage during the class. The software is designed with “break-out rooms” where you can discuss a topic or complete a group exercise with a smaller group from your class. You will need a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone that has internet connection, an audio facility so you can hear and speak during the class and a camera so your lecturer and fellow class participants can see you. The webinar is a secure online environment and only those permitted entry by the lecturer can gain access to the “classroom”. Webinars are recorded during each session and should you miss a session, you can catch up with the recorded session at a later date. You will only be able to access webinars of the group you are assigned to.
Real Life Learning Opportunities
How will I be assessed?
A variety of assessment methods are used to support students with different learning styles. These vary from written reports to practical case studies to examinations. We encourage you to reflect on your knowledge gain with a number of assignments designed to explore your learning journey. All of these assessment methods are seeking to support you to combine theory with scenario-based learning and how to practically implement these methods into your everyday practice.
What is the role of a Special Needs Assistant?
Special needs assistants play an important role in supporting those with learning, physical or behavioural difficulties. The role of an SNA in the classroom involves assisting the teacher to support students with special educational needs who may also have significant care needs. Through education, knowledge and understanding an SNA can ensure that a child with special needs experiences a positive learning experience developing their confidence and independence.
Speak to an expert
Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and possible progression routes to other programmes – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.
It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.
I’m George. I am very passionate about fitness, aesthetics and looking after the body and mind. I love helping people and having this job allows me to guide people in the right direction so they can follow the career they want.
How long are you working in Portobello?
What do you enjoy about working in Portobello?
Getting to work with like minded people that push to give students and potential students a better education and helping them progress in their professional careers.
What inspires you about working in education?
Being able to help someone improve and progress to a career they are passionate about.
Have you a story that you recall that touched you/made you laugh/made you cry?
A student that did not get the leaving cert points to get into Physiotherapy, so he thought there were no other options for him. He found our BSc Sports Therapy course and when I interviewed him he was a very intelligent young man and he was very passionate about following his dream job to be a Physiotherapist. When I gave him the news that he was accepted to study here he almost cried and it was lovely to see and to be able to help him follow his dreams.
How do you feel when you have helped a student reach a decision on their course choice?
One of the best feelings for me is helping a student choose the right course. Most students are unsure which career they want. Being able to explain to them what exactly the roles involve and helping them make the right choice is amazing. Some people will work in a job for 10 years before they realise it is not their dream, Being able to talk to students at an early stage and helping them get a job in the role they want is very rewardin
How do I apply?
Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.