Journal Article

A capability approach to understanding academic and socio-emotional outcomes of students with special educational needs in Ireland

September 28, 2021

 Oxford Review of Education

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Using data from Ireland’s national longitudinal study of children, this paper employs a capabilities approach to disability to understand how individual characteristics as well as home and school environmental factors at age 9 relate to academic and socio-emotional outcomes of students with special educational needs (SEN) at age 17. Results suggest that young people with SEN register both lower average scores and make less academic progress between the age of 9 and their national lower secondary examination, with the exception of young people with a physical SEN. Both home and school environmental factors at 9 years have long-term associations with the academic outcomes of young people with SEN, after controlling for individual characteristics and prior academic achievement. Home and school environmental factors had less consistent associations with the socio-emotional outcomes of young people with SEN. By using rigorous nationally representative longitudinal data, this paper offers a more holistic understanding of the development of young people with SEN. The paper also provides important evidence that a more inclusive approach for supporting students with additional needs, their parents, and their schools is needed.