Preventing School Bullying of Children with Disabilities

We contributed to the Anti-Bullying Working Group established by the Minister for Education and Skills in 2012.

The working group developed a plan to combat bullying in schools. We contributed to this work by investigating anti-bullying support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

We carried out:

  • A literature review on bullying and anti-bullying interventions in schools. In particular anti-bullying interventions for disabled children

  • Visits to primary, post-primary and schools for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities. These schools were suggested by contacts in the Education Sector as possibly demonstrating good practice

  • Discussions with experts on how to tackle school bullying, including the bullying of children with disabilities

  • Post-primary data analysis on bullying and disability from the Growing Up in Ireland Study

The five guiding principles

The research proposed five guiding principles to underpin a framework for schools to ensure that their school becomes a place where staff and children are happy and safe.

  • A rights-based approach to protect children from bullying to govern and underpin principles and practices.

  • Systemic interventions

  • Inclusive processes

  • Education and training

  • Leadership training and communication

A Qualitative Study of How Well Young People with Disabilities are Prepared for Life After School

The Minister for Education and Skills asked the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to lead a review of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Scheme in consultation with other relevant Departments and State Agencies, including the National Disability Authority (NDA).

We contributed to this review by undertaking a stand-alone piece of qualitative research on how well young people with disabilities are prepared for life after school.

We asked for the views of young people, trainers, employers and other relevant stakeholders in further education/training/work sectors. We asked them about how prepared they believe students with disabilities are for life after school.

It also captures the views and experiences of school personnel (principals, teachers, students, SNAs and parents) on the perceived benefits and drawbacks of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme in preparing these students for the next stage of life after school.

This report also informed the NCSE’s Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme published in 2018.

Parental Educational Expectations of Children with Disabilities

In 2016, we commissioned the ESRI to prepare a report on Parental Educational Expectations of Children with Disabilities. This report used data from the Growing Up in Ireland study to investigate the extent to which parental expectations influenced the educational outcomes of children with disabilities.

The report found that, in some cases, parental expectations were lower than expected based on the actual academic achievement of the child. It was also noted that expectations could be influenced by other factors not measured in this study, including a child’s interest in a subject or difficulties with parts of the curriculum.

In 2020, through a research partnership project with the ESRI, parental educational expectations were re-examined using data on 17-year-olds from the Growing Up in Ireland study.

The results show that lower parental academic expectations are linked to lower secondary performance of young people with special educational needs, even after controlling for academic achievements at age 9.

Alongside other family characteristics, parental educational expectations at age 9 have long term associations with both the socio-emotional and academic development of young people, providing important evidence that a more inclusive approach for supporting students with additional needs and their parents is needed.

ESRI published an academic paper in the Oxford Review of Education entitled A capability approach to understanding academic and socio-emotional outcomes of students with special educational needs in Ireland.

This journal article Academic and Socio-Emotional Outcomes of Young People with Special Educational Needs and the Role of Parental Educational Expectations was also produced.

Educational and Employment Experiences of People with a Disability in Ireland: An Analysis of the National Disability Survey

We commissioned the ESRI to analyse the micro-data on education and employment from the National Disability Survey 2006.

Key findings from the Report Educational and Employment Experiences of People with a Disability in Ireland: An Analysis of the National Disability Survey included:

  • 70% of working-age adults with a disability acquired their disability in adult life, with 30% affected from birth or childhood

  • People who were affected by their disability during their school years tended to have lower levels of educational qualifications than the wider population

  • 17% of people with disabilities missed some time in school because of their disability and 15% left school sooner than they would have liked

  • Most working-age people with a disability have worked in the past (56%) or are currently working (29%)

  • The highest proportion who have never had a job or who have left a job because of a disability are among those with poor health, low stamina, or mental health difficulties

  • There is low employment among people with intellectual disabilities, which is linked to low levels of education

  • Those who left work because of a disability tended to be older adults, people with mental health difficulties and those who have problems with health, pain or stamina.

  • About half of those not in work state they would like a job if the circumstances were right

  • Survey participants were asked what would support them to hold a job. Flexible work arrangements such as reduced hours were identified by 46%, modified job tasks by 29% and disability accessibility modifications by 32%