School of Inclusive Education - Research

The Staff of the School of Inclusive and Special Education are engaged in a wide range of research projects on issues relating to varied aspects of inclusive education and special needs education, spanning for example, pedagogy, policy, practice, curriculum, assessment, transition, collaboration, leadership, teacher education, continuing professional development, life histories, student experience, and partnerships. Research projects vary in focus from individual, group, classroom, school, community and systemic levels, with some involving national and international collaboration, and some being supported by the CREATE21 platform within the IoE. Research undertaken by the school contributes to the dynamic growth of theory and practice in the fields of inclusive education and special needs education while commissioned projects contribute to policy developments in the Irish context.

The school welcomes research students at Masters, Professional Doctorate and PhD levels.

Entry requirements

To register for a Postgraduate Research programme, a candidate must normally have obtained a primary degree classification equivalent to Lower Second Class Honours or above, from an approved University or an approved equivalent degree-awarding body, or have an approved equivalent professional qualification in an area cognate to the proposed research topic. See

•PhD: Candidates holding an appropriate Master's degree obtained by research may apply for direct entry to the PhD register to conduct research in a cognate area.

•PhD-track: Candidates with a taught Master's degree in an appropriate discipline with first- or second-class honours, and candidates with a primary degree in an appropriate discipline with first- or second-class honours, grade one, may apply and be considered for entry to the PhD-track register with a view to proceeding towards a PhD. Such candidates will undergo a confirmation procedure, as outlined in the Academic Regulations, before being admitted to the PhD register.

•Master's by Research: Candidates holding a primary degree equivalent to a second-class honours, grade two, may apply for entry on the research Master's register. Students on the Master's register may apply for transfer to the PhD Register under the same conditions, and using the same procedure, as PhD-track candidates requesting confirmation on the PhD register.

English Language Requirements


DCE16 PhD School of Inclusive Education (Full-Time)
DCE17 PhD School of Inclusive Education (Part-Time)
DCE18 MA School of Inclusive Education (Full-Time)
DCE19 MA School of Inclusive Education (Part-Time)
DCE20 PhD-track School of Inclusive Education (Full-Time) DCE21 PhD-track School of Inclusive Education (Part-Time)

Research areas

Current Projects

Experiences of Deaf Children in Gaelscoileanna

Shedding light on a heretofore unexamined aspect of Deaf Education in Ireland. While many deaf children in mainstream primary schools apply for an exemption from the Irish language, a growing number of deaf children are enrolling in Gaelscoileanna across the country. This exploratory qualitative study examines the language experiences of these children, their parents and their schools as they become the first generation of children who are Deaf in Gaelscoileanna.
More information available from Elizabeth Mathews.

Collaborative Self-study in Higher Education

Collaborative self-study in higher education: exploring a pedagogy unique to teacher education. This research aims to evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative self-study as an approach to understanding and articulating a pedagogy unique to teacher education. The research questions include the following:
1.In what ways has collaborative self-study contributed to our designing, implementing and evaluating the new course modules (SIE 301 collaboration and SIE 302 curriculum and pedagogy) for special and inclusive education?
2.How do we view the content and pedagogy of these modules differently?
3.What factors contributed to/hindered this approach?

More information available from Fiona King and Anna Logan.

Experiences of Children with Special Educational Needs

Educational experiences and outcomes for children with special educational needs: A secondary analysis of data from the Growing Up in Ireland Study. A collaborative project between staff from the IoE and ERC commissioned by the NCSE, this is secondary analysis of Ireland's national longitudinal study of children, Growing up in Ireland (GUI). Results of the first set of analyses relating to when children were age 9 examined educational, well-being and engagement outcomes of children with special educational needs. A second report in press, uses data from GUI when children were aged 9 and 13, and considers the extent to which special educational needs have changed or remained the same over time; it examines progress in some of the outcomes examined in the first report, along with additional outcomes, such as transition to post-primary school, and considers differences between children with special educational needs in terms of types of special needs, socio-economic, school and home contexts, and outcomes.
More information available from Joe Travers and Órla Ní Bhroin.

Teacher Assistant Partnership in Special Schools (TAPSS)

Teacher SNA/CA partnerships in special schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is a Cross Border research project in collaboration the University of Ulster funded by the Standing Conference on Teacher Education North & South (SCOTENS) which aims to investigate an under-researched dimension of special educational needs provision in Ireland and Northern Ireland, namely the nature of teacher-assistant partnerships. Classroom support for pupils with special educational needs is commonly provided by Special Needs Assistants (SNA) in Ireland and Classroom Assistants (CA) in Northern Ireland. The post of SNA/CA is common to both mainstream and special school sectors. It is generally viewed as a collaborative partnership, with support staff working alongside and under the direction of teachers. Although the post of SNA/CA is recognised as having much potential, to date, the relationship with class teachers has been largely unexplored. The project, therefore, is designed to explore this relationship from the perspective of the SNA/CA.

More information available from Anna Logan.

SEBD in Post-Primary Education

Supporting those with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) in poat-primary contexts. The focus of this research is on the interface between Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) and the mainstream post-primary sector in the Irish education system. This includes supporting schools and teachers to improve experiences and outcomes for students presenting with SEBD. More specifically, this investigation centres on examining the understandings of SEBD held by teachers (including principals) in this sector and how this impacts on those experiences and outcomes.
More information available from David McKeon.

Social Justice Leadership

Social justice leadership in different national contexts. The International School Leadership Network is an international collaboration between members of the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) and University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). These scholarly bodies focused on educational leadership are based in the UK and USA respectively.

The overall research questions focus on:

1.What is 'social justice leadership', and what does it look like when we see it?

2.How can an international and comparative methodology enhance our understanding of what social justice leadership means in different national contexts?

More information available from Fiona King and Joe Travers.

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