A survey of the social contexts of primary and second-level schools

A National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Working Group published a proposal in ‎June 2014 to improve how schools are resourced to support students with special educational ‎needs (see ‘A Proposed New Model for Allocating Teaching Resources for Students with ‎Special Educational Needs’at www.ncse.ie) ‎

The proposal consists of a baseline component, which allocates a certain amount of teaching ‎resources based on a school’s total enrolment, ensuring a minimum allocation of resources to ‎all schools.  In addition, the model will include a number of other components, to ensure that ‎additional teacher posts are allocated to schools on the basis of each individual school’s need ‎for support. Based on national and international research, the Working Group has identified a ‎set of criteria that indicate a school’s need for additional teaching resources.  These include (i) ‎the number of enrolled students with very complex special educational needs, (ii) the number ‎of enrolled students with low levels of academic achievement, and (iii) the school’s socio-‎economic context.  The Department of Education and Skills (DES) asked the Educational ‎Research Centre (ERC) to assist in the collection of data in relation to the third of these.

In September 2014, the ERC began the process of gathering the information required to ‎develop the new model. As part of this process, a social context survey was developed at the ‎ERC for distribution to all primary and post-primary schools. Questionnaires focusing largely ‎on the socioeconomic characteristics of families served by schools were posted to all primary ‎and post-primary schools nationwide in the first week of September 2014. The data gathered ‎will assist in the development of an educational profile for each school. Other aspects of the ‎educational profile of schools will be constructed from information already held by the ‎Department or from information held by the NCSE. It is likely that the Centre will be ‎involved in combining the different sources of data and exploring various allocation formulae.