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The Inclusion Delusion?

Reflections on Democracy, Ethos and Education

Edited By Aislinn O'Donnell

It may seem self-evident that a democratic society ought to develop inclusive institutions and an inclusive educational system, yet when we try to define what we understand by inclusion, its complexity becomes apparent. This book does not seek to diminish that complexity but aims to deepen our understanding of the idea and ideals of inclusion, as well as examining the presuppositions, values, aims and blind-spots associated with the language of inclusion. What do we mean by the concept? What normative assumptions underpin discourses of inclusion? What happens when we fail to think about the unintended consequences of including those who were previously excluded? Is there an implicit ideal of ‘normality’ at play? Does the concept of inclusion foreclose interrogation of patterns of privilege and power?
This book argues that in order to develop just and inclusive institutions we must begin from the standpoint of those who feel silenced, marginalised and excluded. Responding to the context of Irish education, it makes an important contribution to ongoing debates in Ireland and internationally about how institutions need to change if they are to become genuinely inclusive.
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4 The Pursuit of Independence? Reconsidering the Role of the Special Needs Assistant in Inclusive Education

← 60 | 61 → CLAIRE GRIFFIN

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Inclusive Practices in Irish Education: A Reflection

Educational provision for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) has experienced a myriad of changes over the past two decades. From the 1990s, a national and international shift has occurred from segregated education for students with SEN towards that of inclusion. This was preceded by international legislation and reports, such as The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (UNESCO, 1994), which advocated the rights of all children to an effective and inclusive education. Nationally, the development of inclusive educational provision for children with SEN has mirrored this international shift. Key educational and legislative documents, including the Education Act (Government of Ireland [GOI] 1998), The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (GOI, 2004) and the Disability Act (GOI, 2005) all emphasize the equality of opportunity and rights-based model that underpins today’s Irish education system. As outlined in the EPSEN Act, Ireland is firmly committed to ensuring ‘that the education of people with such needs shall, wherever possible, take place in an inclusive environment’ (GOI, 2004, p. 5). Hereby, the foundational aim of inclusive education is ‘[…] to assist children with SEN to leave school with the skills necessary to participate, to the level of their capacity, in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and to live independent and fulfilled lives’ (ibid.).

← 61 | 62 → Resource-Based Provision and the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Scheme

In line with legislative...

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