Inclusive Education

The Inclusive Education SIG was convened by Dr. Margaret Egan with partners, representing all HEIs in Ireland, including its current Executive Committee members, Dr. Kevin Cahill (UCC), Prof. Ml. Shevlin (TCD), Deirdre Forde (Froebel College, MU), Dr. Johanna Fitzgerald (MIC), and Dr. Miriam Colum (Marino IoE).  Our IE SIG aims to clearly highlight an educational research focus and provide a communal space for collaboration and communication. The IE SIG seeks to engage in discourse on ‘access, social justice, creativity, knowledge sharing, innovation, and capacity building (Hug, 2015, p. 72). An Inclusive Education SIG at ESAI is both timely and necessary 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 IE SIG will aim to reflect such diversity in education.  We propose that our IE 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).

SIG Convenor: Margaret Egan

Inclusive Education Special Interest Group (IE SIG) Annual Report 2023

The formation of our IE SIG emerged from a call from the ESAI, in November 2019, to form SIGs.  Colleagues, within each of the HEIs in Ireland, were contacted by Margaret Egan MIC, to consider forming a SIG that related directly to Inclusive Education.  Recognising the complexities involved within this arena, the IE SIG has and continues to represent a communal space for collaboration and communication in our area(s) of interest. The IE SIG now has a significant national and international membership.  The current Executive Committee Officers are:   Margaret Egan MIC (Chair) Michael Shevlin, TCD (Vice Chair); Kevin Cahill, UCC (Secretary); Deirdre Forde, Froebel College, MUI (Treasurer); Miriam Colum, Marino IoE (Editor of Newsletter) and Johanna Fitzgerald, MIC (Executive Officer).

The IE SIG is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Chairperson, Dr Miriam Colum. Miriam is a Senior lecturer in Education and the Head of Department of Inclusion, Religious Education and Student Life in Marino Institute of Education. Her research interests are in inclusive education, school leadership for inclusion, and Foucauldian theory. Margaret Egan will remain on the Executive Committee and she and the entire membership wish Miriam, who will be an inspirational leader, every success in this role.  Miriam looks forward to presenting on our IE SIG at the ESAI Conference 2024 and to meeting its members and to welcoming newcomers.

We are proud of the evolution of our Newsletter over the past year to now establishing itself as the IE SIG Research Bulletin.  It is a peer-reviewed publication for Early Career Researchers, in particular.  The IE SIG Research Bulletin reflects the agreed 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.


The current edition includes research articles from: Ciara Howe, Sarah Gallagher, Aoife Munroe, Nicola Mannion and Aileen Roche.

Our IE SIG Expert Lecture Series, included presentations from Prof. Lani Florian, ‘On the Necessary Co-Existence of Special and Inclusive Education’; Professor Richard Rose and Professor Michael Shevlin  detailing Researching the Experiences and Outcomes for Students with Special Educational Needs in Irish Schools (Project IRIS);  Dr Peter Hick on Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion, and the final presentation in the series was from Professor Melanie Nind, on the Spaces for Inclusion and Exclusion in Schools. In keeping with our purpose and mission, we are continuing to engage Early Career Researchers with those who are more established in the field and we are currently hosting the IE SIG Spring Spotlight Series, highlighting interesting research from across the SIG. The Series began with a lunchtime session on January 31st with Miriam Colum and Annmarie Collins entitled, Building Bridges: The transformative impact of occupational therapist / primary school teacher collaboration for inclusive learning.  The presentation highlighted the importance of OT / teacher collaboration in primary schools, based on recent research. It outlined some practical OT activities that foster inclusive education for children of all ages. Annmarie Collins is a paediatric occupational therapist, and a primary school teacher. She is currently undertaking doctoral studies (PhD) in Trinity College Dublin that examines the role of the OT in supporting the educational experiences and occupational lives of children from minority communities. We are delighted to forecast the next presentation in the series from Prof. Emer Ring, MIC, based on the upcoming publication of her research and book, commissioned by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).  Emer will focus on exploring the evolution of special education in Ireland from 1922-2022.  The presentation will reflect on highlight key elements of the major reform agenda that have impacted on the experiences of children and young people with special educational needs. Kevin Cahill will issue an invitation to all members for May 1st at 1pm.

In summary, the IE SIG continues to create opportunities for sharing information and research, developing initiatives, identifying new colleagues and in general, has made itself visible in the field, nationally and internationally. The IE SIG welcomes new membership and looks forward to meeting all members at ESAI Conference in 2024. Our Executive Committee and all members are actively and passionately involved, which enables the IE SIG to fulfil its mission. There are a number of new projects in its pipeline, which we look forward to announcing at the ESAI Conference. We are passionately committed to developing our work in 2024.


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