The network has at its core two fundamental research aims:

  1. To examine examples of best practice identification of children with additional support needs who transitioned into first year of mainstream primary school from either a specialized environment or a mainstream early year’s environment
  2. To identify examples of best practice of children with additional support needs who transitioned from mainstream primary to mainstream secondary school.

Identification of best practice was facilitated through using a mixed methods approach where children and families along with a wide range of professionals were asked to participate in this research.

The network included a comprehensive fieldwork process which involved participation from educational, health and social professionals, pupils with additional needs, parents and families who completed online questionnaires, interviews and focus groups which were developed on the basis of the extensive FIESTA literature review.

The FIESTA network used a participative approach and engaged with our main target groups through an intense data collection phase which took place from February to April 2013. An online professional questionnaire was distributed to educational and health professionals (within preschool, primary & secondary) e.g. Teachers, Principals, Family & Child workers, Speech & Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Early Years Educators, Preschool Assistants.

The return rate was very high with 575 which enabled a quality analysis that meets international research standards. A parent’s online questionnaire was also made available and provided returns from 287 parents whose child with special educational needs recent transition experience.

An in-depth qualitative consultation programme was also implemented across 8 partner countries with professionals, pupils and parents. 166 professionals participated in focus groups and 30 parents and children participated in interviews in Ireland, Cyprus, Greece, Finland, Bulgaria, Romania, Spain and Scotland.

The results of the research programme are available in our Best Practice report available here.