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Exploring how respect is articulated in Irish education policy, curriculum, circulars and legislation

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-12, 11:11 authored by Orla Mc CormackOrla Mc Cormack, Joanne O'FlahertyJoanne O'Flaherty, Emmanuel O'Grady

Respect as a term or value is often evoked to highlight a sense of esteem or right that an individual or group should require or be afforded. It is frequently viewed as relational, and central to the way people ought to relate to each other. However, the use of the term respect within classrooms, schools and policy can sometimes become so ubiquitous to the extent that it can become meaningless. Set against this context, this research analyses education documents relating to early childhood, primary and post-primary to consider the espoused positioning of respect within the Irish context. Sources were searched systematically using specific inclusion criteria, which resulted in 620 documents included in the sample, legislation (n = 40), policies (n = 50), active circulars (n = 179), archived circulars (n = 249) and curriculum specifications (n = 102). Following the application of thematic analysis, the authors suggest that ‘respect’ tends to be understood in six main ways: Respecting difference and diversity; mutual respect/ respect as relational; respecting the child; respecting the environment; respecting parents’ rights, views and values; and respecting the ‘ethos’ of the school. Some ways of understanding these conceptualisations and potential implications for schooling are discussed.



Irish Educational Studies



Other Funding information

Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI)

Sustainable development goals

  • (4) Quality Education

Department or School

  • School of Education

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