Over the course of the last decade, notable changes in education have occurred throughout the international community. While many of these changes have taken place in the context of primary education, research demonstrates that changes have also taken place on the post-primary or secondary level. Specifically, Ireland has made a number of changes to its post-primary education program over the course of the last several years. Shevlin (2002/2003) notes that in the last several years, Irish schools have moved toward a more inclusive environment that embraces individuals form a host of backgrounds. In the past segregation in schools based on academic ability at both the primary and post-primary level has been common. However, new research on the issue seems to suggest that the inclusive school has a number of inherent benefits for the development of both academic performance and the self-esteem of the child.
[...] Through the passages of the Education Act the government sent a clear message about the need for change in the educational system. According to McGrath, the government seeks to achieve the following by creating an inclusive school system: The current Bill [Education Act] suggests that a continuum of provision for special education needs as the most appropriate formula for serving children with special education needs. It is proposed that services will range from occasional help within the ordinary school to full-time education in a special school or unit with students having the option and flexibility to move from one type of provision to another according to individual needs (p. [...]
[...] Researchers examining the school system in Ireland note that the system of education is typical to what is found in the United States. Children receive compulsory education in from ages 5 through 15. This is known as primary education. Once students complete primary education, they are then offered the opportunity to attend post-primary or secondary school. Secondary schooling takes place in a host of settings which can include: community schools, comprehensive schools, vocational schools and voluntary secondary schools. The number of schools available for post- primary education has grown over the course of the last several years, due in part, to the fact that more students are choosing to complete school beyond the compulsory level. [...]
[...] Although improvements to this system that favored inclusion began in the 1970s, today the programs for children in Ireland are many and varied. According to Shevlin “Since the 1970s provision has diversified to include special schools, special classes within mainstream schools, and supported integrated placement of disabled pupils in mainstream schools” (p. 160). Despite more than three decades of advancement, however a full model of inclusion has yet to be created in the Irish school system. Even though Shevlin contends that changes in the country's policies toward inclusive education will help facilitate the development of inclusive education, at the present time progress toward this end remains notably slow. [...]
[...] With the realization that such notable benefits can be gleaned from this process, there is a clear impetus for widespread implementation of inclusive education programs. In the end, one can only hope that the Education Act of 1998 will eventually lead to the education transformation that the government so eagerly desires. References Daniel, L.G., & King, D.A. (1997). Impact of inclusion education on academic achievement, student behavior, self-esteem and parental attitudes. Journal of Education Research, 67-81. Education in the Republic of Ireland. (2005). Wikipedia. [...]
[...] Finally, Shevlin (2003) in his examination of the inclusion movement in Ireland notes that while inclusion has a number of notable benefits for children with disabilities research demonstrates that this educational setting also has benefits for children without disabilities. “Evidence from research focusing on contact between young people with and without learning disabilities suggests that non-disabled pupils lack experience and confidence in interactions with their peers who have learning difficulties and, equally, developing social relationships with their non-disabled peers can be problematic for pupils with learning difficulties” (p. [...]
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