St. John of God School is located at Islandbridge in Dublin. The school caters for students from four to eighteen years of age who have moderate general learning disabilities. We also have classes for students with severe/profound disabilities and ASD. Our school strives to prepare each student for life to the best of his/her ability.  Educational programmes are individually focused because we recognise that each student is a unique individual. Experiential learning together with academic work are the main elements of the school curriculum. Learning is fun and enjoyable for each student.

The mission of St. John of God School is to provide education appropriate to each child’s needs. We seek to achieve this through a development life skills programme and suitable instructional strategies and learning materials.

Music Therapy

“Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.” Dr. Clive Robbins

What is Music Therapy?

Every child is uniquely responsive to music despite illness, impairment or disability. Music therapy is a health profession that develops this response in order to help the child reach developmental goals and improve overall functioning and well-being. It uses evidence-based techniques to focus on emotional, communication, cognitive, social and motor goals through the medium of music. Because it works primarily with sound and is a tactile experience, music therapy is an ideal way of meeting these needs in children with a visual impairment. Central to the work is the development of the therapeutic relationship between child and therapist within a safe and predictable environment.  Through this process, creative potential is fostered and self-expression, autonomy and self-esteem are promoted.

What’s the difference between music therapy & music education?

Music therapy and music education are complementary yet distinct disciplines.  They both aim to facilitate growth and development, however the specific goals targeted by each discipline are different. Music educators specialise in the acquisition of musical knowledge, skills, and appreciation while music therapists use music as a vehicle to achieve non-music goals (Daveson & Edwards, 1998).

Why are children referred?

Children with a wide variety of needs can benefit from music therapy including: emotional & behavioural difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Conditions, physical & intellectual disabilities and communication or attention deficits. Some typical music therapy goals include:Develop sense of self/other

  • Increase shared interaction
  • Promote expressive language
  • Develop social skills with peers
  • Provide an outlet for emotion self-expression
  • Emotional support during a difficult time/bereavement/illness
  • Increase self-esteem and confidence
  • Promote attention and listening skills
  • Develop executive functioning skills
  • Provide sensory experiences
  • Promote body awareness, coordination & motor skills


Music therapy programmes

A music therapy assessment happens over 2-3 sessions and helps identify the child’s needs, strengths and interests. Teachers are consulted during this process and therapeutic goals are developed. Programmes generally run for 1 term but his can be extended for priority cases and where a child is making considerable progress. Children may move between individual and group programmes depending on their needs.  In some cases, the therapist may work with teachers or parents in a consultative way providing resources for the classroom/home. Progress is evaluated throughout the process and a report is provided at the end of the school year.

What happens in a session?

A typical session often starts with a “Hello” song, which serves as a transitional function from previous classroom activities. The rest of the session will consist of individualised techniques which target the clinical goals. These can include: singing or vocalising, playing structured music or improvising on various percussion and melodic instruments, movement to music, songwriting, lyric analysis or music listening. Improvisation is central to the work and this is where Interactive music is created by the child and therapist. The therapist uses instruments or voice to acknowledge and support what the child’s musical expression and encourage initiation and interaction. Essential aspects of nonverbal communication are encouraged in music therapy such as turn taking, eye contact, anticipation, listening and concentration, and supporting awareness of self and others. Through musical interaction in a therapeutic context, the child’s abilities are promoted and strengthened and these gains are often observed outside of therapy in their daily lives.

Further information

Please contact: Bill Ahessy mtsjog@gmail.com


St. John of God School has a fantastic Choir. They practise weekly and are put through their paces by choir teachers Karen and Marie. 

The choir lead the singing as Assembly each morning and sing at all school Masses. They did a brilliant job at the School Leaver's Mass in June for the whole school and the School Leaver's Families. For Masses and performances, they wear long flowing red and blue albs. 

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When are serious duties are finished; it's time for us to have serious fun! We sing songs from One Direction, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Glee, and a few oldies! Students from classes M1 to the School Leavers are eligible to join the choir and once in, they commit to coming weekly for the school year. 

"All God's Creatures got a place in this Choir!!"

 Cookery Class


Cookery classes in the school is for with pupils from Class M2 to the School Leavers.  They enjoy one session of cookery each week. Our cookery room is equipped so that it resembles a homely kitchen. We make a wide range of dishes using and re-using similar ingredients which are easily found in most fridges and kitchen cupboards. This is so that the pupils will be able to continue their cookery skills at home. One of the many crowning moments in the year is the in-school Cookery competition- this year it was a Sandwich Making Competition with very imaginative recipes to suit the various tastes of the finalists! 

We also bake to produce cakes for very special occasions in our school year such as the 18th birthday parties for our school leavers and the First Holy Communion and Confirmation cakes. Wonderful Christmas cakes are made for our Annual Cake Sale in November/December as well as hundreds of delicious fairy cakes. The School leavers make and sell their scones in the school every week, much to the delight of the staff and they take orders for lunchtime sandwiches from all the staff. They sell the sandwiches as their mini enterprise every Friday. For many, cookery class is the highlight of their week, when they will proudly bring home their own offering to their family!

For many, cookery class is the highlight of their week, when they will proudly bring home their own offering to their family!

 Making cakes for the cake sale

Making cakes for the cake sale

Hard at work making salads



Every student in the school has a weekly opportunity to dance with our Dance Teacher Linda Higgins who visits us from Inchicore College of Education. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn to move and control their body and express themselves through dance.

This year, the school performed The Wizard of Oz for their parents in June. This was the culmination of the year's dance classes and was a wonderful occasion to see the skill and talent of our students. 

Our School Leaver's received a single rose after their last performance from their Dance Teacher Linda. So did our retiring Acting Principal Don Conway!!

 The scene was set for our big show!

The scene was set for our big show!


Our school is part of a very special football league with 8 special schools across Dublin, Navan and Newbridge. We train regularly and have several matches a year at home and away. Each school takes it in turn to host the annual football party and medal presentation.

The Senior Classes in the School, from M2 to the School Leavers participate in the Out & About Programme in our School. This programme is key to the independence and confidence of our students when they leave school.

The programme begins with our students attending the Staff Canteen to learn how to make tea, sit and chat socially and tidy up after themselves. They learn how to identify coins and the steps involved in using the vending machines. 

The classes go out and about to learn how to be good pedestrians and how to cross the road safely. They buy items in a nearby shop; looking after their money, queuing appropriately, paying properly and engaging the staff when they need assistance. 

Over the years, the students progress to walking to nearby cafés and reading the menus and managing their money by saving in the Post Office. The classes begin going to town on the bus and visit various restaurants to practise reading different menus. The students engage in personal exercises such as getting their feet measured, learning their coat sizes, making appointments in the hairdressers before they go to the Debs Ball! They shop for groceries in Tescos for their weekly Cookery class. They save in the Post Office and budget when shopping for Christmas Presents for their families.