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). ...Show more