The EASIE data collection covers all recognised forms of education at ISCED levels 02, 1, 2 and 3.
This means any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector: municipality, local or regional educational provider from the public or private sector, working with/for ministries responsible for education and areas such as health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.
The legislation governing school attendance in Ireland is the Education (Welfare) Act 2000. Under the Act the minimum school leaving age is 16 years, or until students have completed 3 years of second-level education, whichever is the later.
Parents must ensure that their children from the age of 6 to the age of 16 attend a recognised school or receive a certain minimum education. There is no absolute legal obligation on children to attend school nor on their parents to send them to school.
The Irish Constitution acknowledges the role of a parent / guardian as the primary educator of the child and has enshrined in law that a parent / guardian may home educate a child.
Under Section 14 (1) of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 parents of children who attend a non-recognised school – that is, a school that is not funded by the Department of Education (for example, a private primary school) – or of children who are educated at home must register their child with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
This legal requirement exists in order to support parents in their right to home educate and importantly, to safeguard a child’s right to a minimum education.
What are the typical age ranges for the ISCED levels?
|ISCED LEVEL 02||ISCED LEVEL 1||ISCED LEVEL 2||ISCED LEVEL 3|
The data includes students in fee-paying schools once these schools are recognised by the Department of Education and are subject to Department inspection.
Such fee-paying schools are supported by resources from the state.
The Department of Education operates 3 categories of home tuition:
- special educational needs and medical grounds;
- reasons other than special educational needs and medical grounds;
- maternity-related absences.
Home tuition for children with special educational needs and medical grounds is for:
- children who are unable to attend school for reasons such as chronic illness;
- children with special educational needs who are seeking an educational placement;
- children with autism seeking an early intervention placement.
The home tuition scheme is administered by the Department of Education’s Special Education section.
Some parents may opt to educate their children at home without state resources. In such cases, parents must register with the Child and Family Agency’s (Tusla’s) Education Support Service. The data on the number of learners educated at home without state resources doesn’t form part of the current return.
In the EASIE data collection, an inclusive setting is operationally defined as:
A recognised form of education where the child/learner follows education in mainstream classes alongside their peers for the largest part – 80% or more – of the school week.
The 80% time placement benchmark clearly indicates that a child/learner is educated in a mainstream class for the majority of their school week. At the same time, it acknowledges possibilities for small group or one-to-one withdrawal for limited periods of time (i.e. 20% or one day a week).
Very few participating countries can provide exact data on children/learners spending 80% of their time in a mainstream group/class. However, all countries can apply one of three agreed proxies that provide an approximation to this benchmark:
- Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more
- Data is available on the number of hours of support allocated to a child/learner
- Placement in a mainstream class implies over 50% or more.
In the EASIE data collection, the agreed operational definition is:
An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.
Countries may have different types of official decision, but for all official decisions:
- There has been some form of educational assessment procedure involving different people. This procedure may involve the child/learner, parents, school-based team members, as well as professionals from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the child’s/learner’s (pre-)school.
- There is some form of legal document (plan/programme, etc.) that describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive, which is used as the basis for decision-making.
- There is some form of regular review process of the child/learner’s needs, progress and support.
Most children with special educational or additional needs attend their local primary school in a mainstream class with other children of different ability levels and with additional support, as necessary. Some children with more complex special educational needs attend a special class in their local mainstream school. These classes have lower pupil:teacher ratios. Learners enrolled in these classes may be included in the regular mainstream class for a part of the day or the week, in line with their strengths and abilities.
Special schools are generally for children with very complex special needs who wouldn’t manage in a mainstream school even for part of the week. Special schools have very small class groups.
In general, a learner’s needs are identified at school level within the continuum of support framework. The process moves from simple classroom based interventions to more specialised and individualised interventions. The continuum of support encompasses a graduated problem solving model of assessment and intervention in schools, comprised of three distinct school based processes:
- Classroom Support is an intervention process co-ordinated by the class teacher and carried out within the mainstream classroom.
- School Support is an assessment and intervention process which is usually co-ordinated by the Special Education Teacher (SET) working alongside the class teacher. Interventions at this stage will be additional to those provided through classroom support.
- School Support Plus is generally characterised by the school requesting the involvement of relevant external services in more detailed assessment and development of intervention programmes. This level of intervention is for children with complex and/or enduring needs and whose progress is considered inadequate despite carefully planned interventions at the previous levels.
Information is gathered at school level and there is no national data available with respect to this process.
Learners availing of a placement in a special class attached to a mainstream school or in a special school require a professional assessment which provides a diagnosis of a relevant disability or special educational needs. The assessment report is also required to identify the required placement type and provide a basis for why this placement type is required.
Data on learners availing of a special class or a special school placement is collected by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
Educational assessment is generally carried out at school level. All schools conduct standardised testing in literacy and numeracy and these results are collected nationally.
Specific assessment in relation to special educational or additional needs may also be conducted at school level by the class teacher and SET. Formal assessment may also be conducted in school by the psychological service or through the children’s disability network team, whichever is relevant.
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides a school-based, educational psychology service to primary and post-primary schools. NEPS psychologists work in partnership with teachers, parents and children to support the well-being and the academic, social and emotional development of all learners, having particular regard for the inclusion of children with special educational needs and those at risk of marginalisation due to disadvantage.
Decisions in relation to how a learner in a mainstream classroom placement is supported are made at school level. There is no need for a professional report or a legal document. Differentiated education is supported with Special Education Teaching and Special Needs Assistance. All schools are provided with a Special Education Teaching allocation. Schools are also provided with Special Needs Assistants in line with the profile of additional care needs of learners in the school.
Learners availing of a placement in a special school, or a special class in a mainstream school, require a supporting professional report that provides a relevant diagnosis along with a basis for the special school or special class placement.
Review of a learner’s needs and programmes are conducted at school level. Schools have access to NEPS and the assigned NEPS psychologist may support the review process. Many learners are also supported by the local children’s disability network teams (CDNTs) which operate under the auspices of the Health Service Executive. The CDNT provides specialised support and services for children who have a disability and complex health needs associated with their disability. The CDNT may be available to support and inform the review process in a school where there are relevant learners.
Within the EASIE data collection, specific questions examine children/learners who are out of education. This means children/learners who should, by law, be in some form of recognised education, but who are out of any form of recognised education. A recognised form of education is any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector.