Theme 1: Legislation. The Irish Constitution Enshrines

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Theme 1: Legislation
The Irish Constitution enshrines a guarantee of equality before the law. Article 40.1 states that ‘all citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law’. Under the Constitution, every child has a protected right to education regardless of their needs or ability. The right to education goes beyond academic achievement to the development of the child’s personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential and providing them with the tools to live a full and responsible life within society. The State must ensure that children with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate fully in education through the removal of barriers that impede the realisation of their rights.
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However, the landmark report by the Special Education Review Committee (SERC) (1993) recommended that a continuum of educational provision be established to facilitate the full-time placement of SEN students in mainstream schools with the allocation of additional support, favouring “as much integration as is appropriate and feasible with as little segregation as is necessary”. The White Paper on Education (1995) subsequently proposed that “all students regardless of their personal circumstances have the right of access and participation in the educational system according to their potential and ability.”
The ideals of the Salamanca Statement have been enshrined in The Education Act 1998 which ensures the right of all children to an equal education. Section 6(c) of the Act, guarantees equality of access to, and participation in education for every child, including those with disabilities. Under Section 21, educational establishments are required to develop a school plan. The Board of Management must regularly review and update this plan setting out the measures that the school intends to take to achieve equality of access and participation in the school by students with disabilities. Boards of Management must publish the school policy on the education of students with SEN, including details on enrolment, admission and participation, arrangements for the identification of students with SEN, and how they can be provided for within the school system. They

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