History Of The School

Stepping Stones Special School for children with Autism and Complex Needs began in October 2001 in Newbridge College with a single classroom. At this time it was named Kildare ABA School. The purpose of the school was to provide a specific educational service to those children who had been diagnosed with autism, who were failing to grow and develop in their current educational environment. The educational approach adopted by the school was Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

Six students attended the school on a daily basis, while others were catered for by attending the school intermittently, and receiving home visits from the School Consultant. This number grew rapidly and the larger group was in need of a new setting. With the kind approval of Kilcloon National School, the school was granted permission to use their premises during the summer of 2002. With the move the school was renamed Stepping Stones Meath ABA School.

Old prefab building Kilcloon - Stepping Stones School

Stepping Stones Special School for Children with Autism and Complex Needs was originally established by the hard work and dedication of determined parents and enthusiastic staff. When founded, the School relied strongly on the generosity and goodwill of others but the main financial burden fell to the parents.

Through major struggle and the determination of the parents, Stepping Stones Special school for Children with Autism and Complex Needs was recognised by the Department of Education and Science in February 2003, and funded, on project status, to support children and their families. This was a major breakthrough in the fight for children with Autism to receive the right to a state funded education.

Due to the fact that the Department of Education and Science was now funding the school, the parents were able to concentrate on fund- raising to acquire a permanent home for Stepping Stones.

Following two temporary accommodations, in February 2005, the school moved into the site  in Harristown, Kilcloon, Co. Meath. In January 2006 the Department of Education & Science increased the pupil numbers up to thirty childen attending the school. Stepping Stones Special School for Children with Autism and Complex Needs were welcomed into the local community, and it was hoped that the school would expand on the Kilcloon site, allowing more children to attend.

In April 2011, the school became part of Department of Education and Skills and is now regulated by the Regulations of Primary Schools in Ireland.

The Patron body is Autism Ireland and the Ethos is child centred evidence based teaching and learning.

Stepping Stones Special School for Children with Autism and Complex Needs aims to provide an eclectic model of education to enable every pupil to live their lives to the full and to realise meaningful fulfilment as a unique individual. In order to achieve this, we offer a broad and balanced curriculum that is child centred and evidence based to all pupils, taking into consideration their interests as well as, individual needs, strengths and abilities.

Following 4 years of transition the school was finally approved and granted its permanent recognition from September 2015. This was due to our strong belief in a collaborative approach, where all the stakeholders aim to work for the benefit of the child with his/her learning and wellbeing setting them forward on a successful path.

The school building was established in 2005 as a short term measure. In 2020 the prefabricated building was 15 years old and at the time was designed to accommodate pre school and primary school aged pupils. The classrooms were approximately 27 square metres in comparison to a standard primary school classroom is 80 square metres. The wear and tear on the school building over the last 15 years had taken its toll. This was exacerbated with a large cohort of senior students trying to learn in a cramped, overcrowded environment.

In September 2018 the Board of Management contacted the Department Building Unit highlighting the issues within the school in detail, a Department official was to visit and carry out a technical assessment but this did not happen.

The school had a visit from Minister of Education, Joe Mc Hugh and Minister Regina Doherty in March 2019, which allowed the school to be sanctioned an additional 80 square meter prefab for a sensory room. Prior to this, a small storage space improvised as a sensory de-escalation space was being used by 30 students throughout the day.  Although the additional space was welcome, it remained a long way off addressing the long term issue of an appropriate permanent school building fit for purpose.

A meeting was scheduled for Thursday the 30th January 2020 last with the Building and Planning Unit and the school was informed on the 29th of January that officials were unable to attend with no follow up date available at this time.

Because of this, the whole school community (Board of Management, staff and parents) engaged in a public media campaign highlighting the need for a new suitable school for the students in attendance. It was through this media campaign and help from staff, parents, local councillors and the general public that the Department of Education began to reengage  with the school. 

Shortly after a technical team was sent to the school. At this stage the building was barely fot for purpose, with the floors rotting and fire doors falling off the hinges.  Following the technical assessment it was identified that room for expansion and access to local amenities would benefit the pupils and the overall school community which the Kilcloon site did not offer. The school were soon notified that there was the possibility of moving to a new location into a section of the old Post primary building in Maynooth owned by the KWETB.  The school Board of Management went to view this building and felt the building and location would be an ideal solution for the school.  

In January 2022 the school relocated to Maynooth.  We are now in a perfectly located, refurbished building on the Moyglare road.  The students have the town on their doorstep which allows them to practice and generalise their meaningful life skills.  The development of the Maynooth school site is ongoing.  We opened an additional class in January 2024 and will open another in September 2024.

New building Maynooth - Stepping Stones School