Review of the Visiting Teachers Service for Children with Hearing and Visual Impairment in supporting inclusive educational practice in Ireland: Examining stakeholder feedback through an ecological systems theory

Michael McLinden, Wendy McCraken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
408 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In line with recent developments in inclusive practice in Ireland, children with sensory needs are increasingly educated in mainstream rather than specialist provision. Educational supports are provided by a range of practitioners and include input from the Visiting Teachers Service (VTS) for Children with Hearing and Visual Impairment. This paper reports on findings from the first national review of the Service to examine its nature and role. A project team was commissioned to undertake the review with a view to making recommendations to the Department of Education and Skills, Ireland. The review process included desktop research, meetings with a range of key stakeholders as well as a national invitation for written submissions from interested parties (n= 1372). A key recommendation of the review was that a dedicated specialist service should continue to play a central role in the delivery of educational supports, but that aspects of the current function and role needed to evolve to reflect inclusive education developments within Ireland. The findings serve to illustrate the multi-faceted nature of the role of the specialist teachers who work in the service and the range of influences that impact on their work in facilitating inclusive educational practice. To support a more holistic analysis of their role, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (2005) is drawn upon as a lens through which to examine the inclusive educational ‘supports’ identified within the review that are provided by the teachers and contextualise their role within and between different ‘systems’. Mapping the array of educational supports onto an ecological systems theory enables an appreciation of the multiple sources of influence and interconnections in relation to the role. The paper has significance for service providers seeking a theoretical framework that affords potential for comparison of activities across professional roles, settings and contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-488
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2016

Keywords

  • sensory impairment
  • ecological systems theory
  • specialist teachers

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