About St Joseph’s Primary School
St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment is a Special National School, designated by the Department of Education and Skills for children who are blind or have a significant visual impairment (VI). All children who attend St. Joseph’s have a confirmed medical diagnosis of a visual impairment which is their primary barrier to educational progress. Some of our pupils also have additional disabilities. To apply for a place at St Joseph’s, a child must have an ophthalmology report stating the nature and extent of their visual impairment and a letter of recommendation for enrolment from their local Visiting Teacher for Visual Impairment https://ncse.ie/contact-a-visiting-teacher. For other enrolment criteria, please see the School Admissions webpage.
The ethos of our school is Catholic but we welcome children from families of any faith, or none. The Patron of the school is the Archbishop of Dublin and our Trustees are the Rosminians (Institute of Charity).
Many children who are blind or visually impaired are educated at local primary or special schools throughout the country, supported by the Visiting Teacher Service for VI. Sometimes, a Visiting Teacher for VI, will recommend transfer for a child on their caseload to St. Joseph’s.
The children who attend St. Joseph’s benefit from our specialised school environment with smaller classes and additional curriculum opportunities tailored specifically to the learning needs of children with visual impairment. Additional curriculum includes touch typing and computer skills, individual and group music lessons, orientation and mobility training, tactile art/pottery and swimming. This tuition is provided by teachers funded by the City of Dublin Education and Training Board. The CDETB also funds a part-time Music Therapist. At present, all our pupils are day pupils, travelling to and from school by bus from all parts of Dublin and surrounding counties.
St. Joseph’s is located beside ChildVision on Gracepark Road in Drumcondra and we work closely with a range of staff there. Through ChildVision, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy, nursing support, low-vision clinics and additional orientation and mobility training are provided, all of which is of great benefit to the pupils who attend St. Joseph’s Primary School. Facilities at ChildVision are enjoyed by all, including the sensory garden, pet farm and the library.
Some of our pupils transition to the nearby Rosmini Community School http://www.rosmini.ie for their secondary education. This is not an automatic transition and parents must follow the Rosmini Community School Admissions procedures if they wish to apply. Rosmini Community School has the approval of the Department of Education and Skills to operate two special classes for students with a visual impairment. Students are based in mainstream classes but avail of the VI special class facility for additional supports. There is no longer an MDVI class at Rosmini Community School for students who are visually impaired and have multiple disabilities.
Other pupils transfer to local mainstream schools or other special schools where they receive support for their visual impairment from the local Visiting Teacher Service for VI.
In 2017, National Council for Special Education and the Department of Education gave sanction to retain some pupils beyond primary age. This provision is limited and is for young people who have a visual impairment with a lower moderate or severe and profound general learning disability, for whom Junior Cycle Level 1 Learning Programmes are suitable. For more information, please see our Admissions Policy.
‘Together we can do so much.’ Helen Keller
St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment aims to ensure that every pupil has access to a broad, balanced and appropriate curriculum which is suitably challenging and delivered with dignity.
We recognise that each child is unique and should be given the opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment where ability, not disability, is central.
We seek to nurture children holistically, in line with the core belief of Antonio Rosmini, and in partnership with parents and the wider school community, developing values and skills that will enable pupils to reach their full potential as individuals and as members of society.
Our motto, in the words of Helen Keller, is ‘Together we can do so much’.
Brief History of the School
In 1955, the Rosminian Fathers came to join the Carmelite Brothers on the campus at Gracepark Road, Drumcondra, and began to assist with training workshops for men who were blind.
St. Joseph’s School for Blind Boys was opened by the Department of Education in 1960 as a special national school under the Patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and under the Trusteeship of the Rosminian Order. Boys from all over the Republic of Ireland attended the school as residential pupils. In the early days, younger boys who were blind or visually impaired attended St. Mary’s School for Visually Impaired Girls on Merrion Road, Dublin 4, until they had made their First Holy Communion. They then transferred to St Joseph’s for Blind Boys in Drumcondra. Girls who were blind or had low vision were first admitted to St Joseph’s in 2003, when St. Mary’s School for Visually Impaired Girls closed. Since then, the school at Gracepark Road has been co-educational and is known as St Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment.
Due to developments in Irish Education, many primary-age children who are blind or have low vision now attend a local mainstream or special school and are supported by the Visiting Teacher Service for VI. At present, all St. Joseph’s pupils are day pupils and travel by school bus from various parts of Dublin and the surrounding counties. Services from ChildVision provide much-valued support to the pupils at St Joseph’s Primary School and their families.