04 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session
General Poster Session
Similar to other post-communist countries of the former Eastern Bloc, in the past years we may have registered a paradigm shift towards inclusive education within Czech primary schools. Since around the 1990s Czech education policy has followed the trend of more developed foreign countries, particularly Western Europe and Scandinavian countries. It has adopted various measures including legislative ones, such as international conventions (e.g. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol 2006) or laws at a national level (e.g. Education Act No. 561/2004).
In 2016, the Amendment to the Education Act entered into force, which significantly transformed the organisational, financial and content aspects of education provided to pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in common primary schools. One of the major changes explicitly delineated by the Act is the codification of SEN pupils' right to education in their local primary school together with peers without disabilities, and their entitlement to some support measures. These include e.g. designing an individual educational plan, reducing the number of pupils in a classroom if applicable, eligibility for a teaching assistant or an interpreter, using special and didactic aids, or reducing educational outcomes and so on. The Education Act Amendment referred to as the "inclusive amendment" has caused an outburst of predominantly negative emotions among specialists (mainly specialised educators and opponents of inclusive education) and a part of lay public. Many primary school teachers have also expressed concerns about the increasing number of pupils with disabilities and their massive transfer from special schools to common schools (although special education remains preserved to some extent in the Czech Republic). Since the Amendment to the Education Act, there has been a significant reinforcement of SEN pupils' rights to inclusive education, along with substantial changes affecting education thereby teachers' work in particular.
In the Czech research context, there has been no large research study conducted that would monitor, with the benefit of hindsight, the perceptions of primary school teachers' and their opinion on the changes associated with the Amendment to the Education Act, their attitude to the current concept of inclusive education, or their opinion on the support provided by school management teams and advisory centres. Teachers' attitudes should be seen as important predictors that will have a major effect on the implementation of changes associated with inclusive education (Štemberger, Kiswarday, 2018; Kraska, Boyle, 2014). The research objective is thus to identify the attitudes of Czech primary school teachers (from lower and upper primary schools), and to analyse the selected factors that may influence their perception and opinion on the changes affecting pedagogical processes related to inclusive education. Regarding the study objectives, we analysed factors influencing the following domains of pedagogical processes: a) teachers' experience and their liaison with teaching assistants; b) class homogeneity and the focus of teaching; c) teachers' experience with teaching of SEN pupils; d) teachers' preparedness for inclusive education and the support provided by school management teams and advisory centres. The primary research question was specified as follows: Are the perceptions and opinions on individual domains of pedagogical processes different in terms of teachers' age, gender, the length of experience, their qualifications, the size and the profiling of a school or the region it is located in?
There were 1282 teachers from 140 Czech primary schools participating in quantitative research study. A two-step quota sampling was chosen; it may be considered a quasi-representative sample (the statistical compliance was not ensured between the base and the sample selected). Out of 14 regions, the respective number of primary schools was proportionally selected from each region. The research sample included common primary schools but with different socio-demographic characteristics (e.g. schools with extended foreign language teaching, specialised in sports etc.). The so-called alternative schools (e.g. Waldorf, Montessori etc.), church schools, private schools, multi-year grammar schools and special schools were not deliberately included. Each primary school had a particular number of teachers selected (there were always 5 teachers of a lower primary and 5 teachers of an upper primary school). The response rate of Czech primary schools was relatively low (40%). The data collection was conducted in the second half of 2018. A non-standardised questionnaire of own design was used as a research tool; it was subjected to external evaluation in terms of its content validity. The first part aimed to assess the socio-demographic characteristics of teachers (14 questions in total). The second part contained items that reflected individual domains of pedagogical processes associated with the theme of inclusive education: a) teachers' experience and their liaison with teaching assistants (6 items) b) class homogeneity and the focus of teaching (13 items) c) teachers' experience with SEN pupils (4 items) d) teachers' preparedness for inclusive education and their perceived support from school management teams and advisory centres (5 items) The last part of the questionnaire contained short vignettes describing hypothetical school characteristics that reflected their experience with inclusive education, preferred teaching strategies as well as their philosophical foundations related to the idea of inclusive education. Most questionnaire items were designed as the Likert type scale (Likert, 1932). The scaling method as a relatively reliable tool allowed to identify teachers' attitudes to the phenomena investigated. The data analysis was conducted using SPSS from the initial check, through the statistical calculations of a descriptive nature, to the more complex analyses using inductive statistical procedures (e.g. t-test, ANOVA, multiple post hoc comparison or correlations were used as part of the inferential analysis). The impact of socio-demographic characteristics on teachers' attitudes to the inclusive education was assessed using a multiple linear regression. The questionnaires were given to primary school participants by person via trained interviewers.
Given the research phase, not all data has been fully and completely evaluated, hence only the current and selected results that reflect teachers' attitudes to the phenomena of pedagogical domains are provided. Regarding the amendment to the Education Act, teaching assistants are most commonly used as the form of support. Almost 80% of teachers who participated in the research study declared to liaise with a teaching assistant and they found it to be rather good (there was no statistically significant difference between the groups in relation to the analysed socio-demographic characteristics of teachers; p > 0.05). However, almost ¾ of teachers believe that teaching assistants should be better trained for their profession. Regarding inclusive education, primary school teachers consider pupils with intellectual disabilities the most challenging compared to pupils with other types of disabilities. Our findings correspond to other research studies (e.g. Čagran, Schmidt, 2011; Hastings, Oakford, 2003). Teachers do not identify with inclusive education, i.e. with the teaching that requires a higher degree of individualised learning support to pupils. Teachers' attitudes varied in terms of the primary school profiling. The individualised pupil support was perceived more negatively by teachers from primary schools with extended teaching of mathematics and science subjects than by teachers from primary schools with no profiling or from primary schools specialised in sports (p < 0.01). Younger teachers (below 30) were more willing to adopt inclusive education than teachers above 61 years of age. However, younger teachers felt less prepared for inclusive education and less methodically supported by school management teams and advisory centres than older teachers who felt to be adequately prepared and well supported.
Čagran, B., & Schmidt, M. (2011). Attitudes of Slovene teachers towards the inclusion of pupils with different types of special needs in primary school. Educational Studies, (37)2, 171–195. Hastings, R., & Oakford, S. (2003). Student Teachers' Attitudes Towards the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs. Educational Psychology, (23)1, 87–94. Kraska, J., & Boyle, Ch. (2014). Attitudes of preschool and primary school pre-service teachers towards inclusive education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, (42)3, 228–246. Likert, R. (1932). A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Archives of Psychology, (22)140, 5–55. Štemberger, T., & Kiswarday, V. R. (2018). Attitude towards inclusive education: the perspective of Slovenian preschool and primary school teachers. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 33(1), 47–58.
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