Course Outline:

The aim of this programme is to provide the necessary skills and training to interested school leavers or adult learners who intend to work with children/adults with additional needs. The candidate could work as a Special Needs Assistant in the Primary/Post Primary Sector or as a Personal Assistant in the Further or Higher Education Sector. Or alternatively, successful learners could work as a Personal Assistant within the Community.

  • Human Growth and Development 5N1279
  • Care Support 5N0758
  • Work Experience 5N1356
  • Communications 5N0960
  • Assisting Special Needs 5N1786
  • Intellectual Disability Studies 5N1652
  • Understanding Special Needs 5N1709
  • Family Studies 5N4466

Course Duration:

This is a one-year full time course and runs from September to May.

Entry Requirements:

  • Leaving Certificate/LCVP or Leaving Cert Applied
  • A FETAC/QQI Level 4 qualification
  • Mature students (age 23+) welcome
  • Interview
  • Garda vetting must be successfully completed.

Student Testimonial:

Petrina Lavin

I recently completed the Programme, Disabilities Studies in Early Childhood Care and Education at the Castlebar College of Further Education. With all the skills and experience provided to me by the tutors I was confident to be able to obtain my present position as a Special Needs Assistant in a preschool. The level of support, encouragement and patience given to me and my class was exceptional and I would highly recommend this college to anyone wanting to expand or change their career path. It has been one of the best investments I have ever made.


Once you have applied online you will be called for an interview within a few weeks. QQI examination fees cost €50, although Medical Card holders are exempt from paying this fee on production of a valid medical card. Books and essential class materials may also be required. A €200 Government levy will apply on acceptance of a place on PLC course, but medical card holders and those in receipt of a maintenance grant will be exempt. A €100 Student Services fee and €50 art supplies also applies.

Detailed Course Outline:

Human Growth and Development 5N1279

The learner is introduced to the theory of human development from birth to death. The student will study the life-span of the individual and is offered the opportunity to understand all the developmental stages in depth.

Work Experience 5N1356

The learner is required to complete 60 hours of placement which is approximately 10 days. The placement can be in a National School, a Secondary School or any other care provider such as Western Care, Enable Ireland.

Communications 5NO960

The learner is enabled to improve their communication skills in a variety of ways and also to enhance their personal development.

Intellectual Disability Studies 5N1652

The learner is offered the opportunity to understand the area of Intellectual Disability. 10% of the Disability population are people with an Intellectual Disability. The student will study current research and the best models of care for people within this community

Understanding Special Needs 5N1709

Within this module, learners will study disability in general and look at the categorisation of disability such as physical; sensory; emotional; behavioural. The student will also be offered the opportunity to investigate their future role as an SNA/Personal Assistant and reflect on same.

Family Studies 5N4466

The learner will be offered the opportunity to study the role of the family in society in detail, here they will look at family patterns, functions, relationships, approaches to parenting and will investigate services for families experiencing issues.

Assisting Special Needs 5N1786

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the
knowledge, skill and competence in the practices and principles
underpinning the role of a Special Needs Assistant to enable the
learner to work effectively under direction in a special needs
assisting capacity.

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