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The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) was established in 2005 to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special education needs (SEN) arising from disabilities. One of the NCSE’s key statutory roles is to carry out research to assist in the development of policy advice and information relating to best practice concerning the education of children with SEN.

The NCSE has an active commissioned research programme, which is governed by a research framework, ensuring that all research relates to four identified key themes - the experiences of children with SEN and their parents; best practice/policies in provision for children with SEN; staff and support issues; and improved data collection.

In 2008, a three year longitudinal research project, which aims to carry out the most in-depth study of special and inclusive education ever conducted in Ireland, was commissioned. Project IRIS (Inclusive Research in Irish Schools) was awarded to the Centre for Special Needs Education and Research, University of Northampton, UK, in conjunction with the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin, and The Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe.

During the course of the project, the researchers will seek multiple perspectives, including those of students, parents, school-based staff, allied professionals, and disability support groups in order to build a picture of practices to support young people with special and additional educational needs in their learning. A number of issues critical to the development and implementation of effective provision for students with SEN will be considered. These will include:

  • The current resource allocation model;
  • Identification and assessment issues;
  • Models of within school support;
  • Inter-agency working;
  • Models of transition between school phases; and,
  • A framework for evaluating academic, social and administrative outcomes.

The research team will consult widely with service users and providers in building a picture and case studies of provision across Ireland.

Jennifer Doran
Head of Research and Development, NCSE

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