Developing strong school leadership and teacher capacity is pivotal to improving social and educational outcomes for students in special classes, according to a new ESRI report published today (9 August 2016). Special Classes in Irish Schools, commissioned by the National Council for Special Education, tracked the experiences of students and staff over two years in six primary and six post-primary schools to evaluate if special classes meet the needs of students with special educational needs.
The report found that schools take varied approaches to establishing and operating special classes and concluded that principals who adopt a positive whole-school approach to inclusion and teachers who have appropriate skills are most likely to create an environment where students with special educational needs can thrive.
Special classes in Ireland
Establishing and operating special classes
Concerns of teachers
Implications for policy
The report finds that addressing issues in three key areas could positively influence outcomes for students in special classes.
Supporting school leadership
Building teacher capacity
Addressing the needs of individual students
Dr Selina McCoy, author of the report, commented “The research identifies key opportunities to equip every young person with the skills they need to succeed at school. Given the recent increase in the number of special classes in Ireland, it is an opportune time to apply this new evidence to ensure that special classes act as a valuable and effective resource for young people in Ireland.”
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.