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Perspectives and Practices of the Staff of an Irish Post-Primary School in Addressing the Needs of Exceptionally Able Pupils

McNamee, Colm (2021) Perspectives and Practices of the Staff of an Irish Post-Primary School in Addressing the Needs of Exceptionally Able Pupils. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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Given the dearth of research in relation to exceptionally able pupils in Ireland, the aim of this study was to add to the literature by way of further understand the ways in which these pupils are viewed, and how they are identified and provision is made for them. As a duel exceptional learner myself (one who is both intellectually gifted and disabled) I’ve been fascinated by society’s delight in pathologising difference, and the cost that is accrued not only by the individuals mislabelled, but to society as a whole. In every school classroom throughout Ireland there is likely a cohort of exceptionally able pupils who need opportunities to maximise their potential. Of this group, between 1/5 and 1/6 of them are also disabled. In Ireland, exceptionally able pupils are included under the category of pupils with special educational needs in the 1998 Education Act, while The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004, does not explicitly refer to such needs and the Exceptionally Able Students Guidelines for Teachers have remained in draft form since they were published in 2007. Given this confusing and contradictory landscape it is unsurprising that many schools do not have a formal system of identifying exceptionally able students and the aim of this study was to find out what was happening in one post-primary school in Ireland. First, a specially designed questionnaire was sent to every member of staff of the school with either teaching or care responsibility of these pupils in order to get a broad outline of how staff in the school conceptualise exceptional ability, and how they identify and make provision for exceptionally able pupils. This is followed by an in-depth examination of the main issues with five members of staff who volunteered to participate in one to one interviews. The findings from the interviews expanded (sometimes contradicted) the findings from questionnaire as participants report on their day-to-day experience of interaction with this cohort of students. In general, the staff were supportive of providing support for the students, however on a practical level this support was ad hoc and hampered by an uncertainty as to what constituted an exceptionally able pupil. In particular, the egalitarian educational outlook prevalent in Irish schools places an emphasis on pupils with learning difficulties and raising their test scores with little or no emphasis on ensuring the exceptionally able reach their full potential. Finally, staff reported a requirement for further training in this area, as they felt they lacked both the skills and knowledge required to deal with these exceptionally able pupils.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LC Special aspects / Types of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > Teaching Personnel
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > Ireland
Divisions: Centre for Education and Lifelong Learning > Master of Arts in Educational Practice
Depositing User: Clara Chan
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2022 16:06
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2022 16:06

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