Ireland background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.


Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

Professional psychological and educational assessments are undertaken by a variety of psychologists. These include psychologists who work for the Department of Education and Skills, the Health Service Executive and private practising psychologists.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

The multi-disciplinary team can vary, depending on the child’s/learner’s needs. However, it can include a psychologist, special educational needs organiser, educational welfare officer, school staff, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

Department of Education and Skills policy circulars outline the criteria for allocating special educational supports.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

The review of special educational supports allocated to schools forms part of the Department of Education and Skills policy circulars. This guides the particular children/learners who are reviewed in a given school year.

The formal, regular review process in the country

There is a three-year regular review process outlined as part of the previously mentioned policy circulars.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

Resources are allocated to children/learners in mainstream classes in order for them to be educated alongside their peers in the mainstream class.

Why this proxy was used

Data is collected on the level of resources allocated to schools to enable children/learners to be educated in mainstream classes with their peers.

Difficulties in using the proxy

The data on the resources allocated to schools is accurate. However, there is no data collected on how specifically the schools use those resources.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

No issues.


Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines ‘formal education’ as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011, p. 11).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

No, Ireland uses the same definitions as ISCED.

How specific cases – such as home-educated children/learners – are considered

The Department of Education and Skills authorises home tuition, based on applications that it receives. It is normally allocated as an interim measure.

Children/learners who are considered out of formal education (meaning those not in formal education as defined by ISCED)

Only those children/learners where applications for home tuition have been made are known.

How the population of children/learners who are out of formal education is defined

Children/learners in receipt of home tuition are considered to be receiving some educational provision.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

Private sector education is normally associated with fee-paying schools. However, some fee-paying schools are enabled by the Department of Education and Skills.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

Children/learners who attend fee-paying schools are counted.

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection

The Department of Education and Skills collects data from fee-paying schools.


ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 3 to 4

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 5 to 11

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 12 to 15

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 16 to 18


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2016/2017 dataset. A PDF of the background information for the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 datasets is available.

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