04 SES 03 A, Improving Inclusion of Children with Intellectual Disability in School
During the last decades, inclusion has become pervasive in the international arena (Brahm, 2013) and research in special needs education has in some contexts even become synonymous with “inclusive education” (e.g. in the ECER association). Even so, the development of inclusive education seems to move slowly (Ainscow, Booth, & Dyson, 2006; European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (EADSNE), 2003; Slee, 2010) Segregated solutions, for example in the form of special groups and special schools, still exists to a lesser or greater extent in most education systems. There is, however, noticeably little research concerning such educational environments. Research on segregated educational environments has mainly focused on comparing social and/or academic development of pupils placed in segregated vs. integrated settings (e.g. de Graaf, van Hove, & Haveman, 2013; Hardiman, Guerin, & Fitszimons, 2009; Szumski & Karwowski, 2014). We find this remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, these are the educational environments which a sizable group of pupils meet. Secondly, segregated educational environments are sanctioned by educational policies and curricula as a way to handle the problem of meeting pupil diversity. Thirdly, together with general education, these environments constitute an important part in the development of inclusive education. However, more research is needed.
Sweden is an interesting arena for several reasons. Schools for pupils with intellectual disability (SPID) exists within a school system that has been regarded as one of the most inclusive systems in the world (OECD, 2011). Knowledge goals for SPID have a long tradition of being governed by a special national syllabus. Thus, SPID in Sweden can be considered as a parallel school to the general education school. In the academic year 2016/17, the pupils in SPID constituted approximately 1 % of the total population of pupils in compulsory schools. Furthermore, there is a tradition, over a century long, of educating special teachers for SPID.
The results presented here are part of a larger study, comprising a questionnaire to SPID-teachers and teachers for pupils with intellectual disability (ID) integrated in general education schools and case studies in SPID. The purpose of the study is to generate knowledge about the teaching and learning environments which pupils in SPID meet, focusing on pupils’ knowledge development, social life in school and their democratic education to become active citizens. As a theoretical framework, the study applies curriculum theory developed by Schiro (2013) presenting different curriculum ideologies. Each one of the ideologies gives different views on purpose of education, knowledge, teaching, learning, children as learning subject and assessments’ function in teaching. Overall, the theory gives analytical tools to interpret how the teachers describe SPID’s educational identity and to interpret the didactic questions what, how and why in the analyses of teachers’ construction of the teaching assignment.
The overall purpose of this presentation is to provide a selection of results mirroring aspects of the educational environment of SPID in Sweden. Preliminary results are presented from the questionnaire, which is a total population study of teachers working full time in SPIDs and teachers in general education teaching integrated pupils with ID. Research questions are:
- How do teachers perceive cooperation with their colleagues in SPID and general education?
- How do teachers describe teaching in SPIDs in relation to teaching in general education schools?
The questionnaire was developed in 2016 and in the fall, Sweden Statistics distributed it to all teachers working fulltime in SPID and to teachers for integrated pupils in general education schools. It was thoroughly reviewed by researchers as well as by professionals with statistical expertise from Statistics Sweden. Prior to distribution, it was pilot-tested with six teachers employed in SPIDs and in general education schools. The questionnaire was sent to 3700 teachers and the response rate was 54.3%. Apart from background information (age, sex, education and employment), the questionnaire contains questions concerning school organisation, cooperation, teaching and learning and the pupils’ participation and social situation in school. Here we have selected questions on cooperation and teaching and learning for analyses. Descriptive statistics are mostly used in the presentation of the data since it is a total population study. Before presenting results, we give some background information regarding the respondents. Mainly, the teachers in the study have worked in SPIDs for long time, 6-10 years (21 %) or more than 11 years (41 %). In more than half (54 %) of the teachers’ schools there are three or more classes separately for pupils with ID, usually with 2-5 pupils (39 % of the teachers) or 6-12 pupils (39 % of the teachers). It is usually more than one adult (teacher or assistant) in these classes, between 2-4 adults or more.
When it comes to cooperation between teachers working in SPIDs and teachers in general education schools, there is a slight difference between actual and desired cooperation. A minority (15%) of the teachers state that they cooperate daily and a slightly larger group (17%) state that they cooperate weekly. The desired cooperation is somewhat larger as 18% of the teachers would like to cooperate daily and 25% of the teachers would like cooperation weekly. Cooperation within SPIDs is common as 55-60 % of the teachers in SPIDs state that they cooperate with other teachers in SPIDs daily and 20-30 % of them cooperate weekly. Similarly, more than 60 % of the teachers in general education schools with integrated pupils with ID cooperate with colleagues in general education schools every day. Less than 5 % of the teachers in general education schools with integrated pupils from SPID cooperate with SPID-teachers every day. Hence, it seems that the teachers prefer to cooperate within their own groups. The results show that a learner centered ideology dominates the teachers’ description of teaching in SPIDs, particularly views on valuable knowledge (71 % of the teachers). A majority (77 %) of the teachers report that teaching in SPID differs from teaching in general education schools and a large group (60 %) state that the teaching should differ. Moreover, a large group of the teachers (86 %) state that teaching in SPID holds an holistic view on pupils to a larger extent than general education schools, something that the teachers consider should be developed in the latter schools. A majority (67.3%) of the teachers consider SPID to be a good option to general education schools. In the presentation, we discuss the results in light of implications for inclusion, special needs education and exclusion, as SPID exists in the margin of the Swedish educational system.
Ainscow, M., Booth, T., & Dyson, A. (2006). Inclusion and standards agenda: Negotiating policy pressures in England. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10(4-5), 295-308. Brahm, N. (2013). Addressing tensions and dilemmas in inclusive education: Living with uncertainty. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. de Graaf, G., van Hove, G., & Haveman, M. (2013). More academics in regular schools?: The effect of regular versus special school placement on academic skills in Dutch primary school students with Down syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 57(1), 21-38. doi:doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2011.01512.x European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (EADSNE). (2003). Special education across Europe in 2003: Trends in provision in 18 European countries. Retrieved from https://www.european-agency.org/sites/default/files/special-education-across-europe-in-2003_special_education_europe.pdf. Hardiman, S., Guerin, S., & Fitszimons, E. (2009). A comparison of the social competence of children with moderate intellectual disability in inclusive versus segregated school settings. Research in Developmental Studies, 30, 397-407. doi:doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2008.07.006 OECD. (2011). Social Justice in the OECD: How Do the Member States Compare? Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Schiro, M. S. (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE publications Inc. Slee, R. (2010). The irregular school: Exclusion, schooling and inclusive education. London: Routledge. Szumski, G., & Karwowski, M. (2014). Psychosocial Functioning and School Achievement of Children With Mild Intellectual Disability in Polish Special, Integrative, and Mainstream Schools. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 11(2), 99-108.
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