Research Overview

One of the NCSE’s statutory roles is to carry out research in the area of special education. The overall aim of the NCSE research programme is to strengthen our knowledge and understanding of best practice in educational policy and provision for students with special educational needs. Specifically the NCSE research programme:

  • builds a robust evidence base through commissioning or conducting high quality peer-reviewed research studies;
  • identifies lessons for policy or practice arising from the evidence in order to inform the development of NCSE policy advice to the Minister for Education and Skills;
  • involves relevant stakeholders in an advisory capacity in our research activities;
  • contributes to the dissemination of information about national and international best practice in special and inclusive education to key stakeholders, including parents, teachers and others;
  • contributes to strengthening the research infrastructure around special and inclusive education.

A Head of Research and Communications and a Research Officer comprise the research staff. The NCSE has established an extensive research programme since 2008 and a Research Committee, a subcommittee of the Council, guides and supports the research work. Members of the Committee include:

  • Sheelagh Drudy, Emeritus Professor of Education at University College Dublin and former Head of the UCD School of Education (Chair of the committee).
  • Johnny Murphy, Divisional Inspector, Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate.
  • Anne Tansey, Director, National Educational Psychological Service
  • Finian O’Shea, former Lecturer, Church of Ireland College

NCSE Annual Research Conference

The NCSE hosts an annual research conference, usually in November each year. This event is open to stakeholders, teachers, parents, researchers, policy makers and so on. The conference features presentations on NCSE commissioned research projects, as well as international key note speakers on a variety of topics. All of the conference presentations are available to download from the research conference tab here.

If you are interested in being on the mailing list for the conference please send us an email at

Research Reports

When completed, all NCSE commissioned research reports are published on the website (see the research reports tab for a list and for links to published reports: see here ).

Searchable Database on Research and Policy Publications

The NCSE has also compiled a searchable database of references to research and policy publications in the area of special education on the island of Ireland from 2000 to 2009. This is a valuable resource for stakeholders and researchers and is available at the database tab on the website here.

This database content is currently being updated to 2013.

Research staff also represent the NCSE on various national and international groups and initiatives in the area of special education.