An Irish solution…? Questioning the expansion of special classes in an era of inclusive education

December 15, 2017 | Journal Article

JA201754 front cover Authors: Joanne Banks , Selina McCoy
Economic and Social Review , Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter 2017, pp. 441-461

With the major policy shift towards inclusive education internationally, this paper examines the ongoing expansion of special classes in Irish primary and second-level schools. Using data from a mixed-methods longitudinal study on special classes, we examine if special classes are operating as a form of segregation or inclusion for children with special educational needs. The findings suggest that special classes only operate as a unit of inclusion where children have severe needs. For children with moderate or mild needs, the findings are less clear with some classes operating as a segregated setting or low stream class with no official sanction resulting in issues around teacher competency and stigma among students.

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