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The SENCO role in post-primary schools in Ireland: victims or agents of change?

Fitzgerald, Johanna ; Radford, Julie

European journal of special needs education, 2017-07-03, Vol.32 (3), p.452-466 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    The SENCO role in post-primary schools in Ireland: victims or agents of change?
  • Author: Fitzgerald, Johanna ; Radford, Julie
  • Subjects: SENCO role ; inclusive leadership ; change agent ; post-primary
  • Is Part Of: European journal of special needs education, 2017-07-03, Vol.32 (3), p.452-466
  • Description: This paper considers the role of Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) in mainstream post-primary schools (12-18 years) in Ireland. Little is known of the role in the Irish context and it is hoped that this research will inform policy. The Irish educational landscape has witnessed seismic change recently with further transformation imminent. The SENCO role is a recent phenomenon in Irish schools and while much is known of the role internationally, Irish SENCOs tend to operate in a policy vacuum. This paper draws on research with a purposive sample of twenty-seven SENCOs. A lengthy postal questionnaire served as the method of data collection, where both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Findings reveal the complexity of the role in an evolving education system. SENCOs continue to fulfil largely operational roles and are limited in their capacity to effect change in inclusive practice from a whole-school perspective. Lack of formal recognition of the SENCO role has led to its ad-hoc development. This research makes the case for the formalisation of the role at policy level and recognition of the need to develop the SENCO as strategic leader, firmly situated within school management. Otherwise, Irish SENCOs risk being victims rather than agents of change.
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Language: English
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0885-6257
    EISSN: 1469-591X
    DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2017.1295639

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