The Factors Motivating Parents to Choose Irish Immersion Education for their Child with Special Educational Needs
Keywords:Irish immersion education, parental choice, enrolment, special education, immersion education, bilingualism
A dearth of research exists internationally as to why parents choose immersion education for their child with special educational needs (SEN). The literature available on why parents choose immersion education for the child without SEN states that bilingualism, the parent’s own personal experiences, social networks, and their love of languages are motivating factors. Research on the factors that influence how parents select any school for their child with SEN states that an inclusive school environment and access to additional services are the primary motivators. Through semi-structured interviews, this study investigated the reasons why parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (N=3) and specific speech and language disorder (N=2) chose to send their child to an Irish immersion primary school when they had the option of educating their child through the majority language of the community, English. This article presents a discussion on the parents’ motivations to send their child to an Irish immersion school in terms of them wanting their child to attend the same school as their other children, their love for the Irish language and culture, and the positive inclusive school culture of an Irish immersion school. The findings of this research will enable Irish immersion schools to identify the needs of the parents and families and further develop as inclusive learning environments.
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