In 2013 the NCSE commissioned a team of researchers at the Educational Research Centre and St Patrick’s College to analyse data from the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study to see what we could learn about the school experiences of children with special educational needs. The GUI study is a Government-funded study of children in Ireland that involved the collection of information from over 8,500 nine year olds in 2007/8. The NCSE analysis initially examined information collected in this first wave to try to identify how many children were reported as having special educational or learning needs, and to assess how they were faring at school, both educationally and socially. The analysis examined information on a range of their experiences and outcomes such as reading and maths tests, school attendance, social activities and friendships, their experiences of bullying, of liking school and school subjects, and so on.
It also outlines a range of background factors about these children to try to understand the context of their lives and how these factors might be linked with their experiences at school. The report from this initial analysis is available to download here.
The research team is now working on an analysis of data from these children at age 13, when they were revisited by the GUI study. This second analysis will highlight what progress students have made since they were nine, how they transitioned to post primary school, and whether their needs have changed over time.
Educational Experiences and Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs: A Secondary Analysis of Data from the Growing Up in Ireland Study Principal Investigator: Dr Jude Cosgrove, Educational Research Centre.
In 2015, the NCSE commissioned a team of researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University, University College Cork and the Institute of Education, University of London to undertake a longitudinal study of Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion. The context for the study is major reform in initial teacher education (ITE) in the past five years. From September 2012, all concurrent (undergraduate) programmes of initial teacher education must be of four years duration and from September 2014, all consecutive (postgraduate) programmes of initial teacher education must be of two years duration.
The extension in programme duration has enabled changes to the content and certain elements within ITE programmes have now become mandatory. Two of these elements are inclusive education and differentiation (Teaching Council, 2011). In addition to this, as part of student placement, all ITE must provide a minimum of two placement settings incorporating a variety of teaching situations, class levels and school contexts. As far as is practicable and appropriate, the placement should include different age groups of students including those with special educational needs and the student should experience mixed ability teaching situations and team teaching/co-teaching situations.
The Principal Investigator for the study is Peter Hick. The research will look at issues, including identifying components of inclusive/special education within ITE programmes for primary and post-primary teachers in Ireland; the intended impact of changes in ITE on outcomes for students with SEN; perceptions of student teachers and NQTs regarding their learning and its impact on outcomes for students with SEN; and gaps in ITE curricula.
The study adopts a mixed methods approach, combining: documentary analysis; surveys of cohorts of student teachers at various points in their student and newly qualified teacher (NQTs) career; surveys of ITE providers; interviews with student teachers and NQTs; and interviews with ITE providers.