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Conceptualisations of care: the understanding of ‘care’ across Irish educational legislation, policies, circulars and curriculum

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-20, 07:56 authored by Joanne O'FlahertyJoanne O'Flaherty, Orla Mc CormackOrla Mc Cormack

Set against a context where care for the person, others, and  the world in which we live receives increasing attention in  the policy and practice nexus, this paper sets out to explore  how ‘care’ is understood and reflected in Irish educational  legislation, policies, circulars and curricula. The importance of  focusing on care has been further accentuated during the  COVID-19 pandemic. Each source was searched systematically and following application of inclusion criteria, 616 documents were included in the sample, legislation (n = 39),  policies (n = 49), active circulars (n = 179), archived circulars  (n = 249) and curriculum specifications (n = 100). Thirteen  per cent of the documents included in the review reflected  some discussion of care. Thematic analysis of these documents identified that ‘care’ tended to be understood and  reflected in five main interrelated ways: (1) care for the  individual child and the related duty of care schools/teachers  have for children; (2) supporting students to care for them-selves and for others; (3) care presented in terms of ‘pastoral  care’ or intertwined with ‘well-being’; (4) care presented from  the perspective of care for the environment and finally; and  (5) care presented from a structural perspective regarding  care supports within the school. Some considerations and  challenges are presented in terms of supporting schools to  navigate these different and at times diverging policy, legislative and curriculum contexts with regards conditions for  implementation of care in education. 


Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) [ETBI_2020_01].



Pastoral Care in Education


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