Achieving Inclusion? Effective Resourcing of Students with Special Educational Needs
International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 19, No. 9, 2015, pp. 926-943
In line with the increasing policy emphasis on inclusive education, there is now a greater focus on how best to provide for students special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. However, there is little consensus internationally as to the most equitable way in which to support these students. Despite ongoing evaluations of the existing funding structures, there has been little discussion to inform future changes and ensure an equitable distribution of resources. This paper examines the system of SEN funding in Ireland during a period of policy change. Using data from a National Survey of Schools, we examine the profile and distribution of students across different school contexts to assess the extent to which the existing funding model targets those most in need. Findings show that the current through-put funding system broadly targets students with SEN but in any new model, there is room for greater differentiation in the allocation of funding, particularly within disadvantaged school contexts. The paper highlights the need for further discussion around how we conceptualise special education in mainstream education. We argue for greater emphasis on student outcomes and school accountability where SEN funding is received to support students.