About Donard School

School Information

Donard School is a controlled, co-educational school which caters for almost 110 pupils with Special Educational needs, aged from 3 to 19 years. This purpose built school is located close to the Banbridge Campus of Southern Regional College.

The Board of Governors, Principal, Vice Principal, teachers, classroom assistants and therapy staff work collaboratively to plan and implement programmes for pupils which meet their specific and individual needs.

Our school aims are to

  • Develop each pupil as an individual developing a sense of personal identity, self-management, independence, self-esteem and confidence
  • Provide a curriculum for pupils that is meaningful, relevant and which promotes progression in learning and allows pupils to reach their full potential.
  • Promote an ethos of trust, respect, value, honesty and equality and develop pupils confidence to express an opinion ask questions and make choices.
  • Promote and develop positive behaviour, both at school and at home.
  • Recognise that Parents play a significant role as partners with the School in their child/young person's learning
  • Maximise pupil's individual communication skills to facilitate learning and independence
  • Prepare our pupils for adult life and ensuring that the post school provision best meets their needs and ensures that pupils leave with a future

Admission to our School

Pupils are enrolled at Donard School on the advice of Special Education Department (EA- Southern Region)

Pupils in general will have a statement of Educational Needs. The school aims to support and advise families who are considering a placement at Donard School.

Parents can arrange a visit to the school and meet with the school Principal. They will be given opportunity to view the school and classrooms. .

School aims to provide a welcoming, positive and reassuring environment for parents and pupils to ensure a smooth transition. The school works closely with parents through introductory meetings and visits to provide an understanding of the work and structures of the school.

Pastoral Care

Ethos and Child Protection

Pupils at Donard School enjoy a caring, supportive and stimulating environment where the child's needs and holistic development are at the centre of all provision and the work of the school. The school recognises that each pupil is unique and strives to provide high quality education which allows each student to achieve their potential and develop independence.

At Donard we promote social and emotional wellbeing as an integral part of our school ethos and therefore place a high importance on Pastoral care and Child Protection. Staffs at school are trained to ensure that the welfare and safeguarding of children and young people is seen as a priority. Child Protection is approached by creating a trusting climate within which children feel able to share their thoughts and feelings. Policies on these issues are shared with parents and are readily available in school.


Health and Wellbeing

At Donard School we are committed to the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff. We promote healthy eating at break and lunch and encourage physical activity to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Water Coolers are available for staff and pupil use throughout the school day. We work closely with parents to support and advise on those pupils who have restricted diets. At Donard the pupils are encouraged to try a variety of foods prepared on site by our school cook to develop a balanced diet. We recognise lunchtime and snack time as an important learning opportunity for our pupils. Independence is encouraged but support provided to those pupils with specific feeding needs.

Supporting Pupils with Medication Needs

In Donard School, we remain committed to supporting all pupils, and our aim is to work collaboratively with parents and other professionals to meet the needs of all our pupils especially those with medication and medical needs.

The Curriculum- Learning, Teaching and Assessment

The centre of our school's provision is based on the structure laid down by the Department of Education for Northern Ireland. The NI Curriculum gives the basis for the entire programme to be followed for all age groups and ability levels which make up the school population. The curriculum is centred on the needs interests and experiences of the children and provides practical teaching and hands on learning activities.

The curriculum is planned to overcome potential barriers to learning for individuals eg medical conditions, social and emotional factors, autism, ADHD, challenging behaviour and/or sensory difficulties.

Each pupil in Donard is taught following a highly structured Individual Educational Plan (I.E.P.), which is devised by the class teacher and devised in collaboration with parents. At Donard School we regularly assess each pupil to ensure that targets remain appropriate and that priority needs of the pupil are being addressed 


Our aim is to allow all pupils to attain their full potential, and teachers work closely with parents and all members of the multi-disciplinary team to achieve this aim. School is supported by Speech and Language Therapists , Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy.

WE use a “thematic” approach to curriculum delivery with individual teachers adapting the pre-arranged cross-curricular topics in a manner which will meet the needs of their pupils. All achievements and success will be recognised and celebrated as appropriate to individual pupils. Learning is reinforced and enhanced through appropriate and meaningful educational outings and links with in our community.

At Key Stage 4 and 5 the school also provides the facility for students to enrol in a variety of F.E. courses at our local campus, and works closely with Employment Agencies to seek Work Experience placements, which may lead to further and varied opportunities after the student leaves school. Effective partnerships are established with parents and a range of other agencies to prepare our pupils for transition to adult services and training programmes.

The school promotes person centred planning to ensure that all opportunities for our leavers are explored and the best opportunities and provision is made after leaving school. 

School Links

Home School Links

Donard School recognises that effective communication between home and school is essential. The school promotes an “Open Door” policy, encouraging communication in home/school diaries and welcoming informal queries at any time throughout the school year. We work on the understanding that parents are empowered to support their child more, if they are fully informed of educational targets for the child and are informed of how they can help.

Individual pupil targets and progress are regularly discussed with parents during Parent/Teacher and Annual Review Meetings.

Each month a newsletter is sent home to parents. It contains general details of school and class events.

Links with Outside Agencies

Donard School takes a holistic view of individual pupils and promotes social and emotional wellbeing as an integral part of the school environment. In order to achieve this we work closely with the following agencies.

  • Therapists ie. Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist and Aromatherapist
  • Appleby Training Services
  • Mencap
  • Banbridge Business Partnership
  • Banbridge Area Learning Community
  • Local Churches
  • Charities (local and global)
  • Learning Support Teams i.e. Autism, Visual impairment, Hearing impairment, Behaviour Support Team
  • Respite care facilities

Extra - Curricular Activities

Donard School pupils enjoy a curriculum enriched with creative learning experiences and activities matched to pupil’s interest and abilities.

Music and Drama are an important part of the curriculum at Donard School. Pupils attend local Music, Drama and Speech festivals. Our choir attend many events within the local community.

The Children and Young people who attend Donard School benefit from purposeful engagement in educational visits and a range of sporting activities including: swimming, tag rugby ,Football coaching, Boccia and Indoor Athletics .


We also enjoy links throughout the community for science workshops, artists and music events and productions in school.
The school is equipped with a sensory room and soft play area as well as an outdoor play park. Classes can access outdoor playgrounds which are structured to meet the varying needs of the pupils.

Pupils in Post Primary enjoy residential educational visits and activities. They engage in a range of water sports and activities at SHARE and YMCA Greenhill.