SIGs

Inclusive Education SIG

The founding members, representing all HEIs in Ireland, would like call upon those interested, to join the newly formed ESAI Inclusive Education SIG.  Our SIG aims to clearly highlight an educational research focus and provide a communal space for collaboration and communication. In the spirit of this year’s conference, our SIG seeks to engage in discourse on ‘access, social justice, creativity, knowledge sharing, innovation, and capacity building” (Hug, 2015, p. 72). The creation of an Inclusive Education SIG is both timely and necessary in the current climate as it reflects and considers the global movement towards full inclusive education and the corresponding policy changes. The varying definitions of inclusion have expanded and the Inclusive Education SIG will aim to reflect such diversity in education.  We propose that our Inclusive Education SIG will hold at least two events/meetings or workshops each year (outside of ESAI annual conference), which will convene all those interested in the SIG. The Inclusive Education SIG will present on its work at ESAI’s Annual Conference(s). At this year’s event, Dr. Johanna Fitzgerald, HoD Dept. Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education, in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Egan will introduce an overview of our SIG and its early aims and objectives, which will evolve from this first meeting.

SIG Convenor: Margaret Egan

Contact details: | Email Margaret.egan@mic.ul.ie / Johanna.fitzgerald@mic.ul.ie | Twitter @MgtEganMIC @JohFitzMIC

 


SIG Events


Inclusive Education SIG Interim Report

The purpose and recent actions of the Inclusive Education Special Interest Group (IE SIG) is to embed discourse related to inclusive and special education research and other academic activity in ‘Education’ fora, generally. IE SIG has a research focus and promotes ESAI as a research association and uses the name of the Association in its communications with members and other interested bodies/parties. The IE SIG spans the full education spectrum from early childhood/primary/post-primary/further education/higher education.  There is a particular focus on teacher education (initial, induction, continuing) discourse and research across this wide spectrum.

Our initial task was to establish a purpose and mission for the SIG.  The first formal meeting (June 17th) of the IE SIG focused on and agreed the SIG’s Mission Statement.  There was meaningful discourse around our understanding of ‘Inclusive Education’ and how our SIG could best develop synergies with research, policy and practice in the field.  It was recognised that our membership is actively involved with the T-REX initiative, current research relating to COVID-19 and projects at ESRI and Co-Space.   Committee Officers were also elected:  Prof. Ml. Shevlin (Vice Chair), Dr. Kevin Cahill (Secretary), Dr. Deirdre Forde (Treasurer).  Since then, we have grown the committee to include Miriam Colum and Dr. Johanna Fitzgerald. The first IE SIG Committee meeting established a shared platform for operational matters on MS Teams.

The IE SIG was officially launched by Dr. Margaret Egan (Convenor) at ESAI Conference on 5th September. Our Twitter account has since been established by Dr. Kevin Cahill, which serves to advertise and grow our SIG and also acts as a meaningful outlet for collaborative communication. The IE SIG has increased its membership from the initial founding members, who represent all HEIs in Ireland, to currently embracing almost fifty members.  The IE SIG provides opportunities for international networking between researchers and members of ESAI. It now has a number of international members.  Reflecting this purpose, our SIG hosted its first presentation from an international expert in the field, Prof. Lani Florian, on November 12th entitled: ‘On the Necessary Co-Existence of Special and Inclusive Education’. Professor Florian is Bell Chair of Education and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) at the University of Edinburgh. She is best known for her work on the concept of inclusive pedagogy as a way of working that can improve educational outcomes for everyone, and teacher education for inclusive education. The SIG membership agreed to open such a valuable and inspirational session to the wider Education community.  Prof. Florian’s speak reflected the mission and purpose of our SIG and was attended by a massive audience.  The efforts of Prof. Michael Shevlin, Dr. Kevin Cahill, Dr. Johanna Fitzgerald and Dr. Deirdre Ford in realising this successful SIG event is acknowledged.  The IE SIG is currently organising other such meetings with expert colleagues.

Plans to publish an IE SIG Newsletter, under the umbrella of ESAI, are well underway and Miriam Colum is its innovative and inspiring Editor. The Newsletter endeavours to provide an opportunity for those involved and interested in inclusive education to publish articles based on their research, cognisant of practice and experience. The Newsletter will reflect the Mission of the SIG and its key principles are as follows:

  • To invite inclusive education researchers from across all domains in education to publish and promote research;
  • To endorse an understanding of inclusive education research;
  • To create a space for the sharing of teacher research in the field of inclusive education;
  • To provide a platform for early researchers, generally, in the field;
  • To identify current issues in inclusive education;
  • To encourage dialogue around inclusive education policy, practice and pedagogy;
  • To disseminate inclusive education research to the wider community of practitioners and policy-makers.

 

In conclusion, throughout its first year, the IE SIG has created opportunities for sharing information and research, developing initiatives, identifying new colleagues and in general, has made itself visible to newcomers in the field.

SIG Convenor: Margaret Egan

Contact details: | Email Margaret.egan@mic.ul.ie / Johanna.fitzgerald@mic.ul.ie | Twitter @MgtEganMIC @JohFitzMIC