Research profile

Donal O’Shea

PME in Primary Education

Donal is interested in music, sport, nature and environmental education and enjoys sharing these passions with his students.

Research Paper Title

Literacy, Socio-Economic Status, and Inclusion: An Integrative Literature Review Exploring the Delivery of Inclusive Early Literacy Interventions in Disadvantaged Settings


The researcher utilised an interpretivist approach to examine the links that exist between low socio-economic status and low literacy attainment levels in primary education in Ireland. The aim of the thesis was to examine the efficacy of current initiatives and interventions in addressing the attainment gap. Following the integrative literature review process, twelve research articles were selected and thematic analysis was conducted to synthesise the findings and address the identified research questions. The findings were critically situated and discussed in the wider policy and research context. Results of the thesis demonstrate that while there is a clear correlation between low socio-economic status and low literacy attainment, existing interventions can make a small but significant impact in confronting the attainment gap and can potentially help to create a more inclusive learning environment.


Donal O’Shea is a newly qualified primary school teacher, having completed the Hibernia College Professional Master of Education (PME) in April 2022. Prior to undertaking the PME programme, Donal graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Hons) Degree from the CIT Cork School of Music and worked for several years as a violin teacher and musician. He also worked as a technical writer before deciding to pursue a professional teaching qualification. Donal is interested in music, sport, nature and environmental education and enjoys sharing these passions with his students. He has recently secured a job as a Senior Infant teacher in a Cork City school. He is looking forward to putting the knowledge he has gained through the completion of this research project into practice in the classroom in the year ahead.

Research motivation

Can you tell us a bit about your research project?

My research project focused on exploring the literacy attainment gap correlated with socio-economic disadvantage, and the current interventions and initiatives aimed at addressing this gap

What motivated you to undertake this research?

I chose this area because literacy is one of the pillars of primary curricula around the world, and finding ways to deliver inclusive literacy education that gives all children a chance to succeed is something that will be relevant in every classroom throughout my career.

What impact has it had on your practice? 

My research project has already had a great impact on my practice. As a senior infant teacher last year I implemented formal and informal literacy interventions in my class and I feel that the research I had completed during my studies allowed me to approach these with a lot more confidence and prior knowledge.

How important do you feel research will be in your future practice?

Continuous professional learning and development is crucial to being a reflective and effective teacher, and I feel that having a good knowledge and understanding of research is very important in this.

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