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Reforming the Special Education System Reforming the Special Education System


MIC Researchers Take First Step Towards Reforming Special Education System 



Reforming the Special Education System – Mary Immaculate College pictured above.

MIC Researchers Take First Step Towards Reforming Special Education System 

A team of researchers from Mary Immaculate College (MIC),  together with a team of researchers from University College Cork (UCC), were involved in a pilot project focused on evaluating the provision of therapy supports across a range of education settings.

The project was coordinated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and developed by the Departments of Education and Skills; Health; Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and the Health Service Executive (HSE). This research is intended as an important first step in reforming Ireland’s Special Education System. It involved providing speech and language & occupational therapy services to 150 schools and ELC settings during the 2018/19 school years in South West Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow. Following the success of the initial study, the project will be expanded to more areas in 2021.


MIC researchers, including Professor Ring, Dean of Education, Dr. Lisha O’Sullivan, Head of Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies, Dr. Therese Brophy, Programme Co-ordinator, Doctorate in Educational Psychology joined colleagues from University College Cork (UCC) led by Dr. Helen Lynch and Bryan Boyle in conducting the research.

In welcoming the report, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, noted that the publication of the report represented “the first step in an important reform of our special education system that will see therapy supports provided in school settings”

Commenting on the significance of the research, Professor Emer Ring, Dean of Education at MIC said:  I am delighted, together with my colleagues Dr. Lisha O’Sullivan and Dr. Therese Brophy to be members of the research team involved in the ‘Evaluation of the In-school and Early Years Therapy Support Demonstration Project’. The publication of the report marks MIC’s ongoing commitment to creating a more equitable, just, and inclusive education system and society.

“The research involved extensive fieldwork in ELC, primary, post-primary, and special school settings, which we were fortunate to have completed prior to the exigencies generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research findings indicate that providing access to therapeutic services for children in a cohesive and responsive manner has the potential to enhance inclusive education across early years and school systems and therefore contribute to bridging the aspirational gap that exists in seeking to create inclusive education systems where all children can flourish”.

Professor Ring thanked all of the team involved in this important and innovative research project, concluding that it adds to the rich and vibrant tradition of research at MIC, which continues to shape education policy in both national and international contexts.

The report “Evaluation of In-school and Early Years Therapy Demonstration Support Project” is published by the NCSE and available HERE.

For more stories on Mary Immaculate College go HERE.

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