04 SES 06 A, Text and Inclusive Education: Policies, Textbooks and Journal
In recent years there has been an increasing global flow of ideas, resulting in the borrowing and lending, as well as selective stripping of imported ideas to suit local contexts. Historically, British educational policies relating to children described as having ‘special educational needs’ and disability (SEND), have had a global widespread influence (Howie 2014). The fact the United Kingdom has a long history of policy responses to education makes it a possible context of influence for other counties and it is perhaps not surprising that Cyprus being a former British colony until 1960, would turn to the United Kingdom for ideas relating special education policy, organisational structures and practices. Existing literature reports that Cypriot policy-making has been particularly influenced by the United Kingdom (UK) in terms of policy developments in the area of ‘special needs’ (Phtiaka, 2006).
This paper explores the process of policy formulation and implementation in relation to children commonly described as having ‘special educational needs’ and disability (SEND), in Cyprus and in England. The research question guiding the study was: To what extent has Cyprus encapsulated the SEND terminology, definitions and assessment procedures intended for the English education system in policy formulation and implementation? The chronology, key constructs and common or distinguishing features in our two countries were central in the study. Drawing on research evidence from key primary documentary sources including legislation, statutory and non-statutory guidance and reports, the study aimed to provide a comparative analysis of the content and the spirit of policy in both countries over the cycle of a century.
In the field of Inclusive Education, there are three distinct ideologies which are reflected in policy-making; being segregation, integration, and inclusive education. In brief, segregation refers to educating children in ‘special’, segregating settings; integration refers to educating a number of children described as having SEND in the mainstream school given that some adaptations are made; and inclusive education refers to educating all children in the mainstream school, which is radically restructured to provide quality education to all students. Inclusive education, differs from segregation and integration, mainly because it is based on access, quality education, and values (Booth, 2009), and it requires that the mainstream class teacher is able to respond to all learners (Florian, 2009). In this framework, segregation and integration is believed to reproduce a medical model of disability, which views disability as a ‘problem’ for the individual, whereas inclusive education acknowledges that the school, and not the individual, needs to change in order to accommodate all students (social model of disability).
Rather than regarding policy simply as something that is ‘done to people’ it is argued that policy is a continual process, which emerges from, and interacts with a variety of interrelated contexts. It is argued that there are three primary contexts of policy-making, the context of influence, the context of policy text production and context of practice (Bowe, Ball and Gold 1992). The context of influence, where policy discourses are constructed and key policy concepts are established, including legislation and statutory requirements, provides the first platform for our comparison between the chronology and content of SEND policy in our countries. The context of policy text production, refers to the written documents that represent policy, for example, local and national circulars, as well as statutory and non-statutory guidance. The context of practice refers to what actually happens on the ground, for example in a nursery or school, as a result of a particular policy. The study was primarily concerned with the context of text production, and consisted of documentary research.
Booth T. (2009). Keeping the future alive: Maintaining inclusive values in education and society. In M. Alur & V. Timmons (Eds.). Inclusive education across cultures (pp. 121-134). Sage, Los Angeles. Bowe, R., Ball, S & Gold, A. (1992). Reforming Education and Changing Schools. London: Routledge. Florian, L. (2009). ‘Preparing teachers to work in ‘schools for all’’ (Editorial). Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(4), pp. 533-34. Howie, D. (2010). A comparative study of the positioning of children with special educational needs in the legislation of Britain, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. International Journal of Inclusive Education 14(8): 755-776. Phtiaka, H. (2006). Educating the other: A journey in Cyprus time and space. In L. Barton & F. Armstrong (Eds) Policy, experience and change: Cross-cultural reflections on inclusive education. London: Springer.
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