04 SES 01 C, Inclusion and Quality in Preschool Education
Contemporary education approaches, drawing on the principles of inclusive education, aim at eliminating and preventing any discrimination and encourage the provision of equal opportunities to all students, including those with disabilities, to access education (Booth & Ainscow, 2011· Unesco, 2007).
According to international bibliography the education of students with disabilities is directly connected with the implementation of the Individualised Education Programme (IEP), in order to provide the suitable education, the necessary modifications, differentiations and adaptations within the school context and the arrangements needed for special education inside and outside school in order to fully include these students in the school and the wider social environment (New Jersey Department of Education, 2014× Mitchell, Morton & Hornby, 2010· Law 3699/2008· ΝCSE, 2006· Andreasson, Asp-Onsjö & Isaksson, 2013·IDEA, 2004).
Although there isn’t a common definition for IEP, nor is it implemented in the same way in all countries, there are many points of convergence, such as its significance for the education of students with disability, the role of the parents, the need for interdisciplinary and multifaceted cooperation during its implementation, and the main points of its content (Hartman, 2015· Jewell, 2011· Blackwell & Rossettim, 2014).
The way IEP is implemented differs from country to country, it either focuses on the hole personality of the student with disability, considering his/her interests, inclinations, pace of learning, and particular characteristics, becoming so the centre of the learning process (personalised learning), or adopting the flawed approach of the medical model which focuses on the students’ weaknesses, their classification and provision of special education. These kinds of differentiations and approaches lead to corresponding consequences for the learning process that either promote the development and progress of the student or lead to exclusion (Blackwell & Rossettim, 2014· Sanches-Ferreira et all, 2013· Rodger, 2006· Barton, Ballard & Fulcher, 1992).
Educational researchers mention problems during implementing IEP and have reservations about the employed practices (Rakap, 2015∙ O'connor & Yasikm, 2007). Fundamental questions connecting IEP with whether it promotes or not inclusive education and philosophy remain unanswered and have not been thoroughly investigated (Mitchell, Morton & Hornby, 2010).
In Greece, since 1980 preschool curriculum has not included IEP in the education of students with disabilities, despite its accepted importance (Presidential Decrees 301/1996, 476/1980, 486/1989, 200/1998, 2004). Greek legislation provides for the design and implementation of IEP, entrusting the Centres for Differential Diagnosis, Diagnosis and Support (KEDDY) the responsibility, (Law 3699/2008· Ministerial Decision 1319/2002); yet, there are no specific guidelines and practices for its implementation, content, or the role the parents can play. In the majority of cases the teachers take the initiative and design the appropriate IEP for the students with disability.
In this light, the aim of this research is to report on the present situation of IEP implementation in Greek preschool education of students with disability, moreover, to investigate whether inclusion can be introduced or not. The long-term aim of this research is to disclose the challenges that result from IEP implementation and the possibilities for adopting inclusive educational practices.Thiw presentation iis part of a wider research.
The research questions are:
- How is IEP conceptualised by all involved in the educational process?
- What are the educational practices and processes for designing and implementing IEP in preschool education (evaluation, teaching methods, interdisciplinary and co-Teaching practices, differentiation in teaching and others)?
- Can the implementation of IEP, as it results from its practice and educational policy, promote inclusive education?
- What are the needed changes for promoting inclusion?
The methodology followed, necessary in order to answer the research questions, used a multidimensional framework that included the collection of qualitative and quantitative data from all the people involved in the design and implementation of IEP for preschool students with disability. Moreover, it involved the realisation of an educational intervention for the design and implementation of IEP, within an inclusive education context, differentiated teaching methods and personalised learning. The use of multiple methods and tools aim at a holistic approach of the issue, the triangulation of the research data and the production of valid and reliable findings (Mason, 2003). The research carried out in two stages employed the following research tools. During the first stage: a) semi-structured interviews from all the people involved in the education of preschool students with disability and the implementation of IEP, b) archive analysis (study programmes, legislations, diagnoses and IEP of students with disabilities), c) annual non-participant observations from 22 special education preschools and inclusion classes of preschools, d) the design of questionnaires based on data from the interviews and their distribution to all KEDDY. During the second stage, after studying the collected data, educational intervention is carried out in the chosen school as a case study. Active people who aim to enhance professional and educational practices conduct action research. Researchers make a crucial contribution to the kind of action they take in the reality they investigate (Verma & Mallick, 2004). Data analysis was based on thematic content analysis using procedures of meaning giving, classification, correlation, discovery of causal relationships and theorizing of quality material. (Creswell, 1998· Iosifides, 2003). Data interpretation employs in a comparative way the conceptual context that derives from the social model of disability, the theories of critical pedagogy and the assumptions of interpretative tradition (Iosifides, 2003). The participants of the interviews were the director of the department for Special Education of the Ministry of Education, the personnel of the 7 Attica KEDDY who according to the Law 3688/2008 are expected to design IEP for preschool students with disabilities, the school counsellors for Special Education, the teachers of all the schools where observations and intervention were made and the parents of students with disabilities. Questionnaires were sent to the remaining 55 KEDDY of the country, other than Attica, and to the School Counsellors for special education in order to acquire nationwide data.
The research data demonstrate how IEP was implemented in the education of preschool students with disabilities, the used education practices and the lack of legislation support. They shed light to the difficulties and problems, but also to the prospects for the establishment of inclusive education practices during the design and implementation of IEP in preschool education. The data bring forth the necessity to link IEP practices with differentiated teaching and the multifaceted, interdisciplinary collaboration of all involved in the education of infants with disabilities, and where parents should also participate. The research is expected to contribute to scientific knowledge, since the results could instigate innovations for the education of students with disability and the implementation of IEP, the design of inclusive practices and the need to redefine the principles and conditions for the education of children with disabilities, especially those in preschools, in order to develop inclusion. In this way, people with disabilities ensure their access to all activities of social life. Crucial descriptions of the conditions “from inside” allow for reflection on the existing practices and contexts. In addition, there are more chances for dialogue into matters concerning the management of student diversity in the school and also the identification of the necessary conditions for the implementation of effective processes and practices when employing IEP. The data of this research are expected to cover the existing research limitations in Greece concerning IEP. Moreover, they are considered useful as the implementation of IEP is of the utmost importance. Especially for preschool education, since it is a stage that defines the development of every student by being the basis of primary education. In addition, it is during preschool when concepts concerning inclusion, rigid restrictive views, and attitudes and stereotypes about disability and diversity can be easier reformed (Dragona, 2004).
Andreasson, I., Asp-Onsjö, L. & Isaksson, J. (2013). Lessons learned from research on individual educational plans in Sweden: obstacles, opportunities and future challenges, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 28(4), 413-426. Barton, K. Ballard & G. Fulcher (Eds.) (1992). Disability and the necessity for a sociopolitical perspective. New Hampshire, UK: IEEIR. Blackwell, W. & Rossettim Z. (2014). The Development of Individualized Education Programs: Where Have We Been and Where Should We Go Now? Sage open, 4(2), 1-15. Booth,T. & Ainscow, M. (2011). Index for inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools (3rd ed.). London: CSIE. Creswell, A. J. (1998). Qualitative Inquire And Research Design. Choosing Among Five Traditions. Thousand Oaks, London: Sage. Hartmann, E. (2015): Understanding the Everyday Practice of Individualized Education Program Team Members, Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 25, 1–24. Iosifides, Th. (2003). Qualitative Data Analysis in Social Sciences. Athens: Kritiki [in Greek] Law No 3699 /2-10-2008, Special Education for persons with disabilities or Special Education Needs. Retrieved on October 30th 2008 from http://edu.klimaka.gr/arxeio/nomothesia-fek/fek-199-2008-eidikh-agwgh-kai-ekpaidevsh-klimaka.pdf [in Greek] Mason, J. (2003). Qualitative Researching. London: Sage. Mitchell, D., Morton, M. & Hornby, G. (2010). Review of the Literature on Individual Education Plans Report to the New Zealand Ministry of Education. New Zealand: Ministry of Education. NCFSE (2006). Guidelines On The Individual Education Plan Process. Dublin: Government publication office. O'connor, E. & Yasikm A. (2007). Using Information from an Early Intervention Program to Enhance Literacy Goals on the Individualized Education Program. Reading Psychology, 28(2), 133-148. Presidential Decree: 200/1998, 161/Α' 13-Ιουλ.1998. Organisation and Operation of Preschool education/ 301 -1996- 208 -A- 29-8-1996. Special Education Curriculum, 476/1980 132/22.5.1980. The Curriculum and timetable of Preschool education, 486, 1989 ΦΕΚ 208/Α' 26-9- 1980 Preschool Curriculum, 603 -1982 - 117 -A- 21-9-1982 Organisation and Operation of special education school units Rakap, S. (2015) Quality of individualised education programme goals and objectives for preschool children with disabilities, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 30(2), 173-186. Rodger, S. (2006). Individual Education Plans Revisited: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 42(3), 221-239. Sanches-Ferreira, M., Lopes-dos-Santos, P., Alves, S., Santos, M. & Silveira-Maia, M., (2013). How individualized are the Individualized Education Programmes: an analysis of the contents and quality of the IEPs goals. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 28 (4), 507–520. Unesco, (2007). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Retrieved on 14 May 2008 from http:www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dsid/dsid.nsf/9EA85834AB487A10C2257A7C002CEDA5/ $file/Symbasi%20OHE%20kai%20Prwtokollo.pdf.
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