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An Irish Solution...? Questioning the Expansion of Special Classes in an Era of Inclusive Education


  • Joanne Banks

    (Economic and Social Research Institute)

  • Selina McCoy

    (Economic and Social Research Institute)


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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  • Joanne Banks & Selina McCoy, 2017. "An Irish Solution...? Questioning the Expansion of Special Classes in an Era of Inclusive Education," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 48(4), pages 441-461.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:48:y:2017:i:4:p:441-461

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Smyth, Emer & McCoy, Selina & Darmody, Merike, 2004. "Moving Up. The Experiences of First-Year Students in Post-Primary Education," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT36, December.
    2. Banks, Joanne & McCoy, Selina & Frawley, Denise & Kingston, Gillian & Shevlin, Michael & Smyth, Fiona, 2016. "Special Classes in Irish Schools, Phase 2: A Qualitative Study," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT308, December.
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    special education; inclusive education; Ireland;


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