The right to education for young people excluded from mainstream in a divided society

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Patricia O'Lynn



This paper offers a rights-based analysis of the equity of educational experience allocated to young people excluded from school in Northern Ireland. Using Tomaševski’s ‘4As scheme’ as a conceptual guide, the availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of alternative education provision is examined. The article begins with a brief overview of the contextual landscape within which the sector operates, alluding to the definitional and procedural difficulties that have hindered the delivery of equitable alternative education services to date, before an examination of the current legal architecture within which the right to education may be given further realisation is detailed. The latter part of the article considers the extent to which the organisation, management and delivery of the EOTAS sector is rights-compliant, before concluding that the right to education, as it stands under domestic and international law, does not extend far enough to ensure and protect the educational entitlements of children excluded from school.

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