The Inclusion in Education and Society (IES) research group was established within the School of Education in 2010.   Underpinned by the values of inclusion in and of itself, the research group is based on the central principle of supporting inclusion across all facets of learning and different cultures at national and international level.  The discourse on ‘inclusion’ continues to develop apace across policy and practice and the activities of the group actively explore how this is transforming classrooms, learning environments and humanity.  

The group engages with a variety of theories and theorists from Bronfenbrenner to Universal Design for Learning, Disability theorists to Education theorists, actively contributing to a growing discourse around the democratization of Inclusion.  While not an exhaustive list, research and activities focuse on areas such as disability, intellectual disability, mental health, cyberbullying, grief, autism, health and wellbeing, sleep and universal design for learning.

The IES continuously engages in collaborative research activities that appreciates  a variety of experiences (including lived experience) and abides by the ethos that Inclusion needs to be everyone’s business’. We welcome engagement with like-minded colleagues.

Research Group Director: Prof Conor Mc Guckin

Research Focus

The research group explores inclusion issues at both national and international levels. At a national level research has been conducted into an examination of special education provision. More specifically, the group since its inception has engaged in four major projects:

  • Inclusive Research in Irish Schools'5 (Project IRIS) which was a 4 year longitudinal study investigating the experiences of children and young people with special educational needs in Irish schools.
  • The Special Class Model in Ireland: How is it working for pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools?' This was a joint 2 year study with the ESRI exploring the provision for children with special educational needs within special class model.
  • Transitions for students with disabilities and/or SEN into third level and further education. This was an 18 month study investigating pathways into further and/or higher education for students with disabilities.
  • The Learner Voice project.

Internationally the research group has led a European Science Foundation research project: Qualitative Tracking with Young Disabled People in European States. This project has run over the past three years and examined the impact of international and national policies on the lives of disabled people in four European countries.

As can be seen above, the emphasis on creating and sustaining partnerships through research has been a key principle of the group. This is also evident in the group's orientation towards events, which are seen as a medium through which to steer and initiate debates around inclusion and SEN nationally and internationally. For example, the most recent, held in November 2014, was a national conference on early intervention for children with disabilities and/or special needs entitled: Early Intervention in Ireland: Where do we go from here? National and International Perspectives. A further example, which demonstrates the group's interest in inclusion across all sectors of education, is the debate concerning access challenges for students with visual impairments making transition into further and higher education. This was undertaken through a national seminar held jointly with the newly established National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. A final example was the all-day seminar 'I'm Me, Learner Voice Research; Partnership and Planning'. This event saw the launch of a major collaborative research partnership between IES, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals.

Over the past four years this research group has been involved in funded research projects totalling €819,000. As a research group we plan to bid for further research funding to continue the four-year longitudinal study, learner voice project and research into the area of education and intellectual disability with the recent incorporation of the NIID into the School of Education

For the past decade colleagues in the School have been developing a focus on the educational and social inclusion of marginalized groups within society. Research outputs have included government sponsored reports, journal articles and Northern Ireland, UK and European collaborations. More recently colleagues in the School have formed a research consortium with Irish and UK colleagues and are working on several major research projects, including:

  • Project IES (Inclusive in Education and Society - 3 yrs).
  • Transitions for students with disabilities and/or SEN into third level and further education. (18 months).
  • Qualitative Tracking with Young Disabled People in European States. Quali-TYDES project (PDF).
  • Inclusive Research in Irish Schools (PDF) (Project IRIS.)
  • The Special Class Model in Ireland: How is it working for pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools? (With the ESRI).

International conferences have been targeted for dissemination of research and the consortium is actively seeking to establish a European network to address the issues of educational and social inclusion.

Current Programmes

The Centre sponsors a Master's Degree in Education (Early Intervention) for children with disabilities and additional needs. With contributions from disciplinary experts, the Master's in Education (Early Intervention) focuses on promoting the values, skills, and competencies needed to develop comprehensive, evidence-based, family-centred Early Intervention programmes. The MEI promotes empowerment and inclusion for children with disabilities and their families and is influenced by the values of The Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID).