The Equal Status Act, 2000 is guided by the principle of equal rights and participation among community members (Houses of the Oireachtus, 2006). The Act includes access to service, facilities and amenities across ethnicity, age, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, political affiliation or physical and mental ability, or membership of a traveller community. However, there is a distinct lack of empirical evaluation of actual classroom practices of equality as provided by teachers and schools (Breen, 1998; Breen & Jonsson, 2005).
Issues of exclusion within the education system reflect concerns for the learning attainments of groups that are differentiated by language, religion, ideology or culture, socio-economic status or who are political or economic immigrants. Socio-economic and political infrastructure within the Republic aims to cultivate within students a sense of "inclusive identity", which requires classroom practices that respect different traditions across community aggregates, and that encourage tolerance, acceptance and respect for social differences (Center for the Study of conflict [CAINS], 1996). Inclusive education requires that all students are recognised as part of both the school and wider community, regardless of the students learning strengths and weaknesses (Hanafin & Lynch, 2002). The principles of inclusive education contributed to the development of a national education program, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) (Department of Education & Science, 2006). However, literature reviewing the effectiveness of the program is lacking.
This research proposal aims to evaluate current classroom practices of equality and inclusiveness with regard to socio-economic status amongst secondary students in the Republic. A pre-post research design will be used, incorporating a mixed method of student surveys and end of term grades. The final thesis will be divided in to five chapters; 1) An Introduction to the topic; 2) A Literature Review of relevant empirical studies to identify the present state of research, to identify gaps so as to develop the research hypotheses; 3) A Method section to outline the school's characteristics, participant demographics, selection criteria and the obtaining of informed consent, as well as detailing the research design, materials to be used, and the procedure of the study; 4) The Results section will provide the findings of analyses and include tables and graphs as appropriate; and 5) A Discussion section, which will identify if the hypotheses were supported or not whilst linking findings to current discourse as presented in the Literature Review. The limitations of the study will also be delineated, and recommendations for future empirical research shall be made.
It is anticipated that this research project will positively contribute to the development of chaplaincy programs that will support equality of access to education, and enhance inclusiveness within schools of the Republic.
Breen, R. (1998). The persistence of class origin inequalities among school leavers in the
Republic of Ireland,