IRIS report concludes four-year study of SEN provision in Ireland

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Researchers from the University of Northampton, UK have published the largest ever European report into special and inclusive education, marking the end of a four-year project conducted on behalf of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in the Republic of Ireland

Project IRIS (Inclusive Research in Irish Schools) was led by Professor Richard Rose for The Centre for Education and Research (CeSNER) at the University of Northampton, and involved partners from Trinity College, Dublin and the Institute for Child Education and Psychology Europe. It involved over 150 students and their parents and school staff in 24 mainstream and special schools around the country over a three-year period.

The researchers reviewed school policies, provision and practices, and the experiences of and outcomes for the pupils and their parents in the study. They concluded that Ireland has established strong policies and provision for children with special educational needs (SEN), though the quality of the support provided varies across the country.

Examples cited by NCSE’s CEO Teresa Griffin include that progress made by some students with special needs was often not measured or was measured in ways that were inappropriate. Other shortcomings include difficulties in accessing timely assessments; limited and inconsistent access to therapeutic services and assistive technology; the need for greater levels of teacher knowledge and expertise; and inconsistent development and application of individual education plans (IEPs).

Professor Rose said:

‘The professional approaches adopted by teachers and other school-based professionals in Ireland was evident throughout the four years of the study. The significant amount of data that we generated and its analysis has already begun to shape developments for children with special educational needs within the country.’

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