Assessment of Need (AON) FAQs
Why are schools now being asked to fill out this form?
The Assessment of Need (AON) process is long established. Following a 2021 court judgement it was clarified that under the Disability Act (2005) the NCSE is required to assist the HSE in organising the education assessment as part of the AON process.
If an assessment of education need is required, the HSE assessment officer will contact the NCSE for assistance. The NCSE now has the responsibility to nominate an appropriate person to carry out an assessment of education needs on behalf of the HSE under the AON process, this is the school principal, deputy principal or SEN teacher dealing with the pupil.
How many forms are involved?
One. The orange/red NCSE form is the only one that needs to be filled out, if your school received a second one from a local health board that has now been rescinded. If your school receives any other forms, please contact INTO for advice.
How long will the form take to fill out?
Schools surveyed as part of the 2022 trial reported it took an average of 20-30 minutes to fill out the form once the Student Support Plan was to hand.
What supports are available to help the nominated person to fill out this form?
The Department of Education has provided the resources listed below at the following link, these were updated in February 2023:
Report of Education Needs for the purpose of Assessment of Need (Disability Act 2005)
- A video explaining the form and the process
- A guidance note for schools
- A blank form for information
- A dedicated helpline 01 603 3456
- Email support at email@example.com
- Online or in-person support from NCSE for schools who receive more than one form at a time
Where do I find the information to go into the form? I am not qualified to diagnose learning difficulties.
In most cases the information to go into the form is already be held in the Student Support Plan (SSP) for the pupil. Schools are only being asked to provide an educational assessment which is within the remit of the principal/deputy principal/SEN teacher as an education professional.
What if I don’t have an SSP or the pupil is new to the school?
The NCSE AON guidance document clarifies the process of contacting the pupil’s previous school if necessary and how to assess junior infants.
As principal/deputy principal/SEN teacher am I legally vulnerable as a result of filling out this form?
No. INTO has received clarification from the Department of Education that any legal liability arising from the AON process lies with the HSE. This is clearly stated on the form.
Will the child’s parents object to the AON being submitted or the form’s contents?
The AON process should be initiated by parents, who will already be aware of the contents of the support plan. Consent by parents is given when they apply for the AON.
Is there any in person support available to help me fill out the form?
If a school receives more than one AON form they can apply to the NCSE for online or in person support.
Is the INTO in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders about the AON process?
Yes. The INTO is in contact with the DE and NCSE on this issue. INTO has provided significant feedback to the DE and our requested changes to the form and Guidance Note have been taken on board. INTO has also secured a commitment to regular DE review and stakeholder engagement.
Will extra time be allowed in the school week to fill out the form?
The SET allocation model allows time for working on SSPs and this time can be used for the purpose of completing the form. The relevant circular is 13/2017.
Is the INTO recommending that schools co-operate with the AON process?