Similar to other countries in Ireland there is disparity within the population which is mirrored in their educational system as well. Schools in disadvantaged areas struggling with special education, low levels of numeracy and literacy, disruptive behavior, and early school leavings.
Since the 1970s, there has been a wide range of educational initiatives which have attempted to address educational disadvantage and the current national initiative has grown from these early attempts to promote equality in education.
LIMERIC DEIS PRIMARY SCHOOLS’ LITERACY INITIATIVE was a regional initiative that was directly related to DEIS literacy targets and was specifically alleged to the 2010 national strategy to improve literacy amongst children. It focussed on the continual professional development of primary school teachers to support best practice in oral language and literacy instruction. The project was located in the most economically and socially disadvantaged areas of Limerick city. The targeted schools catered for children coming from low-income families and whose parents themselves had poor literacy and numeracy skills.
Special Education Initative is a multi-track system for inclusive education including and incorporating Special Education (SE) placement in mainstream schools, special classes in mainstream schools and special school. It has mostly meant significant funding towards the employment of SE teachers (SET) and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs).
Currently, the inclusion (and integration) of children with SE in preschool placements is a DES focus with the new state-funded LINC programme.
TED is specially focussed at linking Higher education expertise with local DEIS schools and is specifically targeted at Limerick DEIS schools and surrounding rural DEIS band schools. The main goal of TED is to provide support to schools via consultation, advocacy, training, research, partnership working on a range of initiatives and through this partnership to encourage positive attitudes to education and increase participation in education.
Youthreach programme is the only national programme that deals specifically with early school leaving in Ireland and is the government’s primary response to early school leaving. It targets children and young people aged between 15-21 years of age who have left formal education without qualifications. The programme aims to focus on successful progression to education and/or training with a view to enhancing social and economic inclusion. There is a strong emphasis on personal and social development as many of the participants may have low self-esteem and negative attitudes towards formal education.