About Saplings Special School

Saplings Special School for Children with Autism and Complex Needs, Kill, is a co-educational autism specific special school, providing high quality education for pupils with autism and complex needs. The school offers child-centred, autism specific education which draws on a range of evidence-based interventions. There are currently 30 students attending our school between the ages of 5 and 18. All students have a primary diagnosis of autism and a secondary diagnosis of a mild, moderate, or severe/profound learning disability. Some of our students also have another diagnosis such as epilepsy, ADHD, ADD etc. We are one of only thirteen schools in Ireland with a full time Behaviour Analyst on staff. We aim to provide high quality educational support to students with a diagnosis of autism, assisting them to achieve their full potential and participate in their family and community life, through the provision of holistic evidence-based services, celebrating each individual’s dignity, uniqueness and right to an optimal education.

School Ethos

The ethos or philosophy of education in Saplings Special School for Children with Autism and Complex Needs is that all students are entitled to an education that will prepare them to be functioning members of their communities, educationally, socially, and behaviourally. We believe that educators have a responsibility to use proven best practice allied with appropriate data collection to effect positive change in a learner’s repertoire. The community of learners to which we are responsible are individuals with a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder with one or more associated difficulties in terms of: environmental/social disadvantage, cognitive or language impairment, emotional or behavioural problems. We will follow the Primary School Curriculum (1999), the Guidelines for Teaching Students with Mild, Moderate and Severe to Profound General Learning Difficulties and the Junior Cycle Level 1 and 2 with some modifications as indicated by the assessed needs of the students. Each student’s curriculum will be driven by an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) which will be drawn up in consultation with the family of each child along with any professionals deemed necessary by the school team. All IEP based teaching will be data driven and evidence based and will be in line with International best practice. Classroom management will be facilitated according to best behavioural practice with due regard for other evidence-based methods.

Board of Management

  • John Whelan (Chairperson)
  • Alan Brennan (School Principal and Board Secretary)
  • Marc deSalvo (Patron Nominee)
  • Alan Bolger (Parent Nominee)
  • Nova Franklin (Parent Nominee)
  • Ina Hall (Teacher Nominee)
  • Bob Quinn (Community Representative)
  • Martina Bonner Mullaney (Community Representative).


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