Mapping and Tracking Students with Special Educational Needs after they leave School

ESRI education researchers have been commissioned by NCSE to undertake a longitudinal mixed methods study, tracking the experiences of young people with special educational needs/disabilities from second-level education through the transition into subsequent pathways. Our approach to the research will build on the existing literature in two ways.

First, the study will map with greater breadth the pathways of a broadly representative sample of students through surveys and interviews with a range of stakeholders in school and post-school settings and through secondary data sources like Growing Up in Ireland. In Spring 2022, a survey of up to 1,000 students who are leaving school this academic year will be carried out, including special schools and a stratified sample of mainstream post-primary schools. The sample will overrepresent DEIS schools and schools providing high levels of additional support to students in order to reach students with the most complex needs. We will also ensure our sample covers a national geographic spread and a blend of school types.

Secondly, we will engage in depth with students on pathways which are currently under-researched and poorly understood. Interviews will be used to capture the diverse experiences characterising these pathways, aiming to involve a range of key stakeholders while centring the young adults’ own accounts of their trajectories. The use of a mixed methods approach and a range of secondary data sources will allow us to engage with both the wider picture of post-school transitions for young adults with disabilities and the nuance of individual pathways.