04 SES 03 A, Inclusive Classrooms, Inclusive Pedagogy and Transition
International studies have raised concerns about the academic and social implications of inclusive policies on school engagement and successful learning and, in particular, on the ways in which friendships are formed between students with SEN and other students (Ferguson, 2008; Frostad and Pijl, 2007; Shah and Priestly 2009; Koster et al., 2010, Rose and Shevlin, 2010) In the Irish context, research findings show that Irish children with special educational needs like school less than their peers without SEN in mainstream primary school settings, and both academic engagement and social engagement play a central role in understanding such poorer school engagement (McCoy and Banks, 2012). Further, young people with SEN are likely to face a number of significant challenges as they negotiate a pathway from primary to secondary education (Rose et al., 2015; Maras and Aveling, 2006; Hughes et al., 2013; Myklebust, 2010; Forgan and Vaughn, 2000). In a review of the literature, Hughes et al. (2013) conclude that children with specific learning difficulties perceive lower levels of social support and more peer victimisation after transition than typically developing children. However, there are few studies addressing transition for students with SEN, and methodological limitations have been identified in some of these studies (Hughes et al., 2013). In this context, this paper addresses an important dearth in the research literature, asking:
- How do young people with special educational needs in Ireland experience the transition to secondary education?
- What are the implications of transition for their social and academic development?
The paper is based on two large-scale longitudinal studies in Ireland. The first, Growing Up in Ireland, provides rich insights into the socio-emotional and academic experiences of one-in-eight Irish children over the period 9 to 13 years of age. In particular, the paper examines levels of self-concept, school engagement, peer relations and academic skills development post transition for young people with different types of SEN. Drawing on this data, recent research has found that young people with SEN, particularly those with emotional/behavioural or learning difficulties are more negative about themselves than their peers (Smyth, 2015). Further, McCoy et al., (forthcoming) have found that parental educational expectations play an important role in understanding poorer self-concept and academic skills development among young people with SEN. Further analysis for this paper will assess the nature of socio-emotional and educational development among young people with different types of SEN post transition, taking account of their individual and family characteristics at 9 years of age. Hence, the paper is focused on developmental trajectories between the pre- and post transition years, taking a multidimensional approach.
The second evidence base, Project IRIS (Rose, Shevlin, Winter and O’Raw, 2015), examines the experiences and outcomes of students with SEN, the largest such study of its kind in Ireland. This paper draws on qualitative evidence from Project IRIS, examining the transition experiences of thirteen students over two timepoints approximately one year apart (pre and post transition).
Ferguson, D. 2008. “International trends in inclusive education: The continuing challenge to teach each one and everyone”. European Journal of Special Needs Education 23: 109-120. Forgan and Vaughn 2000. “Adolescents With and Without LD Make the Transition to Middle School”, Journal of Learning Disabilities 33(1): 33-43. Frostad, P. and S.J. Pijl 2007. “Does being friendly help in making friends? The relation between the social position and social skills of pupils with special needs in mainstream education”. European Journal of Special Needs Education 22: 15-30. Hughes, L.A., P. Banks and M.M. Terras 2013. “Secondary school transition for children with special educational needs: a literature review”. Support for Learning, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Koster, M., S.J. Pijl, H. Nakkena and E. Van Houten 2010. “Social participation of students with special needs in regular primary education in the Netherlands”. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 57: 59-75. Maras, P. And E.L. Aveling 2006. “Students with special educational needs: transition from primary to secondary school”. British Journal of Special Education, 33(4): 196-203. McCoy, S. and J. Banks 2012. “Simply Academic? Why Children with special educational needs don’t like school” European Journal of Special Needs Education 27, 1: 81-97. Myklebust, J.O. 2010. “Inclusion or exclusion? Transitions among special needs students in upper secondary education in Norway”, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 17(3): 251-263. Rose, M., M. Shevlin, E. Winter, P. O’Raw 2015. Project IRIS – Inclusive Research in Irish Schools. A longitudinal study of the experiences of and outcomes for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in Irish Schools, Dublin: NCSE. Rose, R. and M. Shevlin 2010. Count me in! Ideas for actively engaging students in inclusive classrooms. Dublin: JKP Publishers. Shah, S. and M. Priestley 2009. “Home and away: The impact of educational policies on disabled children’s experiences of family and friendship”. Research Papers in Education 25: 155-174. Smyth, E. 2015. Wellbeing and School Experiences among 9 and 13- Year Olds: Insights from the Growing Up in Ireland Study, Dublin: ESRI and NCCA. McCoy, S., B. Maitre, D. Watson and J. Banks (forthcoming). “The role of parental educational expectations in understanding social and academic wellbeing among students with SEN”, under review.
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