Practitioners’ Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Inclusion of Children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities [SEND] in a Primary Mainstream School

Begum, Sarya (2023) Practitioners’ Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Inclusion of Children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities [SEND] in a Primary Mainstream School. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Sarya Begum PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Mar 2022_Final Award Feb 2023.pdf - Accepted Version

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In the 1970s, mounting pressure from the Education (Handicapped Children) Act (DES, 1970), requiring children who were previously deemed 'Ineducable' to attend school, led to a United Kingdom government inquiry into standards of national provision for children with Special Educational Needs (DES, 1978: 6) chaired by Lady Warnock. The Warnock report (1978) proposed three models to integrate children with disabilities: Locational, Social and Functional Integration, marking a major shift in special needs and disability discourse. Warnock (1978) introduced Special Educational Needs as an umbrella term, replacing the ten ‘handicap’ categories set out in the 1944 ‘Education Act’ regulations. The SEN and SEND acronyms emerged due to the SEND Code of Practices (DfES, 2001; DfE, 2014).

The Salamanca agreement (UNESCO, 1994), a United Nations initiative, introduced the terms ‘Inclusion’ and ‘education for all’ (Unesco, 1994: ix), with a vision for all children with Special Educational Needs to be educated in primary mainstream settings. The Salamanca agreement recognised some children with disabilities would be best supported in a special school; however, it also stressed that children attending a special school should not be segregated and, thus, encouraged part-time attendance in a mainstream setting (Unesco, 1994). The notion of Inclusion shifted in light of multiple policies introduced after 1994. Research and this inquiry reveal that Inclusion’s success depends on practitioners’ attitudes (Brown, 2016), which are grounded in a complex web of training, support, expertise in SEND, specialists’ input and the complexity of Special Needs.

This inquiry examined practitioners' perceptions and attitudes towards Inclusion for children with SEND attending a primary mainstream school. This research was conducted in a three-form entry school in England, teaching approximately 750 children with various abilities and disabilities.

The research design was a case study comprising nine interviews and 27 questionnaires. Qualitative data were collected from practitioners [teachers, teaching assistants, learning mentor, headteacher, Chief Education Officer] via semi-structured interviews; the questionnaires accumulated qualitative and quantitative data. This inquiry used thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2013), examining themes and patterns of meaning associated with Inclusion and SEND.

Extensive literature was examined, accentuating mixed reviews about Inclusion’s success in a primary mainstream school. While practitioners supported Inclusion in a mainstream school, they voiced concerns about the challenges of achieving Inclusion. Practitioners expressed concerns about the expectations of teaching children with diverse/complex SEND, irrespective of practitioner confidence, depleting funding, support, resources, training, and SEND expertise. The unrealistic expectations created challenges, resulting in some children facing Functional Integration, not Inclusion, as practitioners struggled to cater for all children’s SEND.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
30 March 2022Submitted
1 February 2023Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Perceptions, Attitudes, Inclusion, Special Educational Needs, Disabilities, SEND, Mainstream Integration Primary Education
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Education and Social Work
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2023 13:57
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2023 13:57

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