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    The unequal operation of power in Irish Education: An exploration and evaluation of the development and operation of the Section 29 Appeal System and the extent to which it has addressed power and inequality issues in Irish Education.


    Gilbride, Mary (2013) The unequal operation of power in Irish Education: An exploration and evaluation of the development and operation of the Section 29 Appeal System and the extent to which it has addressed power and inequality issues in Irish Education. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    This dissertation reports the findings of research conducted on the appeal process established by Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998. The purpose of the research was threefold: 1. to document the development of the Section 29 legislation and procedures from its origins in the 1990s to the end of the first decade of its operation in 2011 2. to determine the success of Section 29 in terms of achieving its aims 3. to utilise the Section 29 Appeal process to facilitate a critical analysis of the power differentials evident in Irish education. Section 29 gives parents, guardians and students who have reached the age of 18, the right to appeal certain decisions made by a school’s Board of Management to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills (DES). The decisions which may be appealed are refusal to enrol, permanent exclusion from a school and suspension. The appeal mechanism came into effect on 23 December 2000 following consultation between Department officials and the education partners. The agreed appeal procedures provide for a 4 stage appeal process, culminating in an appeal hearing which is heard by an independent appeal committee. By the end of 2011, a total of 2,963 appeals had been lodged with the DES. This study involved an in-depth examination of a wide range of published and unpublished documentation outlining the establishment, operation and review of the Section 29 appeal system. The research also examined the perceptions of DES officials, appeal personnel and the education partners about the Section 29 appeal process through the use of a series of semi-structured interviews with 28 targeted individuals. The study of the development and operation of the Section 29 appeal process and of the challenges to the appeal process over its first eleven years has offered an insight into the unequal operation of power in Irish education. The underpinning conceptual framework of this research was that school personnel, and the organisations that represent them, embody power and influence that they are reluctant to surrender and which are difficult to challenge. The research has drawn on a range of literature that focuses on the theme of the power of schools and on inequality issues in schools and the wider education system to explore the predominant power of particular groups in society and how such groups maintain their own social, cultural and economic superiority. The work of Pierre Bourdieu was particularly referenced in this regard. A core finding of this research is that the Section 29 appeal process has made schools more accountable for their actions. It has been particularly successful in ensuring that schools follow agreed procedures and policies in relation to the admission and exclusion of children. The findings also indicate that Section 29 has empowered many parents as it has enabled them to challenge decisions of schools that heretofore were extremely difficult to challenge. The study demonstrates that the fundamental power differentials inherent in Irish education persist. Those with the most valued social and cultural capital continue to have the most powerful voices in the education system and schools. Those parents with the most valued social, linguistic and cultural capital are the main beneficiaries of the Section 29 appeal mechanism.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Irish Education; Section 29 Appeal System; power; inequality issues;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Education
    Item ID: 4993
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2014 16:18
    URI:

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