14 SES 06 B, School-related Transitions: Contributions from Turkey, Ireland and Czechy
This paper describes the use of secondary data analysis to profile the educational and wider social circumstances of pupils with special educational needs in Northern Ireland (NI) between 2010/11-2018/19. Evidence identifies children with SEN as a vulnerable group who are more likely to experience adversities across their life experience, and there are strong associations between the educational profile of pupils with SEN and a range of social, economic and health inequities (Equality Commission, 2015; NICCY, 2013). The availability of valuable Department of Education (DE) data with other social, econometric and health administrative data makes it possible, for the first time, to evaluate the form, context and variability of SEN in NI and to begin to understand what SEN means at the individual, household, school and regional levels.
Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities represent a sizeable proportion (up to 20%) of the total school population; recent data shows that whilst overall pupil numbers have decreased over the past 10 years, the numbers with SEN have increased and are projected to continue to do so (DE, 2019). Research has established a compelling relationship between the educational profile of these pupils and the wider circumstances of their lives. For example, their family status is more likely to be socio-economically disadvantaged, they are more likely to experience social isolation (NIAO, 2015), experience depression and anxiety (Bunting et al., 2020); a small but significant number end up in the youth justice system (DoJ, 2011) and a disproportionate number of 18-year olds with SEN are not in any form of education, employment or training (OFMDFM, 2012).
Socio-economic status (SES) is well documented as an indicator of outcomes in education, health, behaviour and development (Jimenez-Mora, 2020; Molina-Garcia et al., 2017) and research has shown that the prevalence of co-existing deprivation indicators – including poverty, housing parental health and family well-being can be a key predictor of children’s life outcomes (Neubourg et al., 2018). The association between deprivation and special educational needs has been an enduring concern in NI (JRF, 2018; Gibb et al., 2016; Equality Commission 2015), particularly its impact on educational, health and social outcomes. For example, evidence shows that almost three quarters of delays in issuing statements of SEN are attributable to delays in health trust advice (NIAO, 2017) which in turn can have a detrimental impact on the educational progress of these pupils. It is also estimated that just under half of children with learning disabilities will develop additional mental health problems (Oldfield et al., 2017) which in turn can lead to poorer physical health and premature death [Heslop et al., 2013). Failing to support children with SEN also results in significant burden and distress for parents and families but also results in considerable long-term social and economic costs for society, often leading to lost earnings, reduced productivity and increasing financial burdens across education, health, social care and justice systems (Chorozoglou et al., 2015).
In international comparisons, childhood economic adversity in NI is higher than other adversities (McLafferty and O’Neill, 2019). Although there are varying perspectives on the influence of these social determinants, evidence indicates that children growing up with lower SES are more likely to be identified as having SEN (JRF, 2018). It is therefore necessary to understand the relationship between these trends, to help identity appropriate short-term provision for this group of children and to strategise for longer-term planning. Better utilisation of available data can help inform practice, as well as illuminate gaps in knowledge, helping researchers and policymakers to inform decisions about future research and data collection. It is within this context that the paper is presented.
The project is part of the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN), a UK-wide partnership between universities, government departments and agencies, national statistics authorities, funders and the wider research community. It operates in recognition that access to, and analysis of, administrative data, can provide valuable insights of interest and relevance to policy makers, service providers and service users. The nature and availability of data required that access was undertaken in two distinct stages and collected from two major sources: the Department of Education and the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS). The distinct characteristics of each data set did not permit data linkage, although the variables of SEN and disability have relevance to both. Use of these variables in each data set, therefore, enabled preliminary analysis of the educational and social profile of SEN and disability in Northern Ireland. In Stage 1, educational data linkage and analysis enabled exploration of the variability in categorised (group) and individual-level SEN across a series of high-level co-variates (such as school type, education sub-region) and individual co-variates (such as age, gender, FSME, residential deprivation index). This was achieved by calculating the prevalence rate of SEN across these variables and the corresponding ratio change to discern trends as well as variations over time. In the absence of more cohesive individualised pupil data, this approach enabled a preliminary baseline profile of pupils with SEN, with demographic variables providing a bridge to Stage 2. In Stage 2, the NILS data (which is distilled from NI Census 2011) was used to identify the sub-population of children aged 4-19 years who were also enumerated in the 2011 school census. The data provided access to a wide range of health, disability, socio-demographic and socio-economic indicators; this enabled ongoing interrogation of these variables for children through data linkage and analysis comparing children with and without disabilities relative to their environmental circumstances. From this it should be possible to create a relationship matrix to develop a profile of child and family variables. Published data on education, health and disability is available from a range of sources although it is often presented as single tables. In the absence of more individualized data, the two-stage approach provided a systematic focus and validity through access to a wide range of health, disability, socio-demographic and socio-economic indicators. The unique contribution of the two-stage approach, therefore, is the possibility to look at the variables for children collectively and cumulatively.
Data analysis is ongoing. Initial findings in relation to education data suggest variations in the prevalence of categories (groups) and individual type of SEN by school type; variations in the prevalence of individual types of SEN (notably, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties); a relationship between rates of certain individual SEN and Free School Meal Entitlement); and variations in the regional spread of individual SEN. In relation to the wider social data analysis of NI Census 2011, it is anticipated that a better understanding of profile of children with disabilities relative to their circumstances will emerge. In this respect, it is expected that certain socio-demographic variables will show greater influence than others, from which it will be possible to begin to identify a continuum of indicators and their likely impact on the life chances of children with SEN and disabilities. It is recognised that a more unified and collaborative approach to data collection can better meet the needs of children. In this respect, the provision of joined-up data, as envisaged in this paper, has potential to contribute to the existing knowledge base. Its two-fold scope - to synthesise available Census data on disability in NI relative to other factors and to profile SEN prevalence – will have cross-cutting relevance for statutory and non-statutory agencies with a strong social agenda and will inform and assist these groups and service-users in future planning and provision. Modelling and profiling the variability of SEN over time and in a way that is sensitive to these multiple levels will afford a greater opportunity to monitor the education outcomes of this group, to evaluate the degree of inequality that may be experienced by this group, and ultimately to begin to tailor and target support and services for this group.
Bunting, L., McCartan, C., Davidson, G., Grant, A., McBride, O., Mulholland, C., Murphy, J., Schubotz, D., Cameron, J. and Shevlin, M. (2020). The mental health of children and parents in Northern Ireland. Results of the youth wellbeing prevalence survey. NI: QUB, UU, HSCB, Mental Health Foundation. Chorozoglou, M., Smith, E., Koerting, J., Thompson, M.J., Sayal, K. and Sonuga- Barke, E.J.S. (2015) Preschool hyperactivity is associated with long-term economic burden: evidence from a longitudinal health economic analysis of costs incurred across childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(9), 966-975. Department of Justice Northern Ireland. (2011). A review of the youth justice system in Northern Ireland. NI: Department of Justice. Equality Commission (2015) Education inequalities in Northern Ireland. Belfast, Equality Commission. Jimenez-Mora, M.A., Nieves-Barreto, L.D, Montano-Rodriguez, A., Betancourt-Villamizar, E.C. and Mendivil, C.O. (2020) Association of overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity with socio-economic status and educational level in Colombia. Diabetes Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 13, pp1887-1898. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. (2018). Poverty in Northern Ireland. Briefing Paper. York, JRF. McLafferty, M. and O'Neill, S. (2019). Childhood adversities in Northern Ireland: the impact on mental health and suicidal behaviour. Policy and Practice Briefing. Northern Ireland: Ulster University. Molina-García J., Queralt A., Adams M.A., Conway T.L., Sallis J.F. (2018). Neighborhood built environment and socio-economic status in relation to multiple health outcomes in adolescents. Preventive Medicine, 105, 88–94. National Audit Office (NAO) (2015) Care services for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. London, NAO. Office of the Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) (2012) Delivering social change: children and young person’s early action document. Belfast, OFMDDM.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.