The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

An Exploration of the Well-being of Leaders for Inclusion, Including SENCOs and Principals, in Irish Primary Schools

Emma O’Sullivan, Mary Immaculate College (Ireland)


In the past number of years, while the Irish special education system has been under review, many special education teachers and Special Education Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) have not received adequate professional learning regarding these changes (Fitzgerald and Radford, 2017). The role of the Special Education Teacher (SET) continues to evolve with further responsibilities regarding students on their caseload (Emery and Vandenberg, 2010). Introduction of a revised SET Allocation model (DES, 2017), as well as the paucity of policy outlining the role of the SENCO (Fitzgerald and Radford, 2017) are potential stressors negatively affecting the well-being of teachers leading special education (Doyle Bradley, 2021). Furthermore, the literature reveals that despite the developments in well-being policy and practice in Irish schools, there appears to be a focus on the well-being of students, with a neglect for the well-being of teachers and school leaders (Doran and Burke 2022). This research aspires to address this gap in national policy, addressing the well-being of leaders for inclusion. It is important for further research to further clarify the main stressors for teachers and leaders within special education, as well as identify supports and facilitators of positive wellbeing. Therefore, this study aims to expand upon the research of Doyle Bradley (2020) and identify potential stressors affecting leaders of inclusion and special education. O’Brien and Guiney (2021) suggest that if teachers have a sense of fulfilment and meaning from their work, they feel more satisfied; this positively impacts their well-being. Therefore, it is the aim of this research study to further investigate the factors within the school setting that support the well-being of teachers and leaders. The findings of this study could potentially impact whole-school policy and the ethos of the school; thereby ensuring staff well-being is supported and developed. Furthermore, it must be noted that there is sparse research relating to the well-being of the leaders of inclusion and special education, especially within the Irish education system. This research study aims to further explore the well-being of leaders of inclusion in Irish primary schools.



Well-being, SENCOs, leaders for inclusion, inclusive education, stressors



[1]Department of Education and Skills. (2017) Circular 0013/2017 Special Education Teaching Allocation, Dublin: Department of Education and Skills.

[2] Doyle Bradley, N. (2021) Is Special Education Teaching in Ireland Stressful? Coping with Work-related Stress Student Teacher Educational Research e-Journal, 4, 8-21.

[3] Fitzgerald, J. and Radford, J. (2017) ‘The SENCO role in post-primary schools in Ireland: victims or agents of change?’ European Journal of Special Needs Education, 32(3), 452–466.

[4] O’Brien, T. and Guiney, D. (2021) ‘Wellbeing: How we make sense of it and what this means for teachers’ Support for Learning 36 (3), 342-355.


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