04 SES 10 B, Views of Pupils and Teachers of Inclusive Education
The purpose of this paper presentation is to provide overall findings generated from a research project funded by the Swedish Research Council concerning special educators’ education and work. The role of special educators, and their counterparts, is discussed in relation to implications for the development of inclusive education. The overarching research question concerns how special educators identify and shape their occupational role. More specifically the research questions presented below are:
- According to special educators, what characterizes the professional knowledge and values they claim that they represent? (Study 1)
- What tasks do special educators consider to be characteristic of their occupational role, as practiced by them? (Study 1)
- On what grounds can special educators claim special expertise concerning the identification of, and work with, school difficulties? (Study 1)
- To what extent are special educators and to what extent are support teachers assigned to work with special support in ten municipalities in Sweden? (Study 2)
- What work tasks characterize/constitute the occupational role of special educators, and what work tasks characterize/constitute the occupational role of support teachers? (Study 2)
- What work tasks do special educators and what work tasks do support teachers believe should characterize the two occupational roles? (Study 2)
- What characterizes the work tasks of six special educators who pursue a typical special educator role according to their survey ratings? (Study 3)
- What characterizes the contexts in which the six special educators enact their professional roles? (Study 3)
Our theoretical point of departure is Skrtic’s (1991, 1995) reasoning concerning special education as a parallel system to regular education, which in turn, counteracts the development of inclusion. We also use Abbott’s (1988) notions of division of labor and jurisdictional control in order to better understand the formation of special educators’ role as well as conditions for special educators to develop inclusive practices. In study two, Skrtic’s (1991, 1995) theoretical accounts of inclusive education, and Abbott’s (1988) notion of jurisdictional control is specifically used to gain further understanding about the formation of special educators’ and support teachers’ role in relation to implications for inclusion. In study 3, a typology of school contexts (Ball et al., 2012) is used to describe the complex local contexts in which special educators enact their professional roles.
From an international viewpoint, this research project is of value for several reasons. Firstly, it involves large-scale data collections. While it has long since been common to use questionnaires in special needs research in order to study the views of different occupational groups, mostly teachers, it is still uncommon to study large samples of groups that are influential in special needs work (Göransson et al., 2015). Secondly, the education of special educators in Sweden is from an international perspective not at all typical. In Sweden a special educator has to study one and a half years (advanced level) following a degree in teaching in order to get a degree as a special educator. Thus, Swedish special educators have received comparatively more education than their counterparts in most other European countries (Göransson et al., submitted). This is of special interest since, thirdly, Sweden is still considered to have one of the most ‘inclusive’ educational systems in the world (OECD, 2011).
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