My son is dyslexic. Does he qualify for reduced CAO points?

Ask Brian: Dare scheme assists college applicants with disabilities - but entry points depend on individual courses

There is a false public perception that all successful Dare applicants secure a reduction in CAO points requirements. Photo: iStock

There is a false public perception that all successful Dare applicants secure a reduction in CAO points requirements. Photo: iStock

 

My son is sitting the Leaving Cert next year and has a diagnosis of dyslexia which he received 10 years ago. The special needs teacher in his school recently told him he can get into college on reduced points by making a “Dare” application. Is this right? The Disability Access Route to Education (Dare) is the third-level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers who have a diagnosed disability which has resulted in them experiencing a negative impact in their educational lives throughout second level.

The scheme is now operated by 27 third-level colleges representing most places offered through the CAO each year. Colleges put aside a number of places across most of their course offerings, which are awarded to the most deserving successful applicants who meet the criteria and are deemed eligible in June each year.

There is a public perception that all successful Dare applicants secure a reduction in CAO points requirements. This is a false interpretation of how Dare operates. Each course director or department head will allocate a specific number of places on their course to the Dare alternative admissions scheme.

If, for example, your son were among six qualifying applicants for four Dare places on a course, he would stand a strong chance of receiving an offer of a place. If the number of successful Dare applicants far exceeds the number of places available, then he may not receive a reduced points requirement offer.

In 2020, following research findings that students with physical and sensory disabilities are particularly under-represented in higher education in Ireland, colleges have decided to prioritise these two groups when allocating reduced points requirements.

Colleges have also prioritised students who meet the criteria for both Dare and Higher Education Access Route (Hear), which targets students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Regarding the application process, he should go online to cao.ie from November 5th and make an application. Once he receives his unique number, he then needs to log back in to his application record and click the “modify status” button and follow the instructions.

One important note: he will be prompted to fill the “supplementary information form” which contains two sections. Section a, which must be completed by March 1st next, allows him to name his disability of dyslexia, indicate what supports he may have received in school, and complete a short personal statement outlining the challenges he has faced in school as a consequence of his disability.

Section b which involves you and your son’s school identifying the impact of his disability on his second-level experience has to be completed and received by post in the CAO offices in Galway by March 15th.

Furthermore, in the case of a diagnosis of dyslexia, applications must include two literacy or two numeracy attainment scores at or below the 10th percentile, from tests carried out on or after February 1st, 2018.

Email queries to askbrian@irishtimes.com