04 SES 07 B, Doing well: Special Needs And Belonging In Inclusive Education
Introduction and objectives
As in other European countries, in the Netherlands ongoing efforts are made to establish education that is more inclusive. In 2014, the national policy ‘Passend onderwijs’ (policy for inclusive education) came into operation. This policy’s goal is to include more students with special educational needs (SEN) in regular schools. Regular and special schools are obliged to cooperate in regional clusters, and these clusters are responsible for providing sufficient facilities and support to schools. Budget cuts have come into operation for clusters with a high percentage of students in special schools. At the national level, different student outcomes are strived for, one of these being a positive well-being of students in school, whether with or without special educational needs.
Well-being is essential for the overall mental health and quality of life of all students, regardless of having SEN. According to the OECD (2017), successful students not only perform well academically but are also satisfied at school. Yet, students with SEN are often at higher risk of experiencing a lower level of well-being at school (Palmer et al., 2011). Several variables have been found to be associated with well-being, like social support from teachers and parents and a positive self-image (Hilgenkamp, Wijck, & Evenhuis, 2011). Moreover, Gaspar et al. (2012) indicate that the relationship with peers is also an important predictor of well-being. These researchers found that the status of having SEN was not significantly associated with students’ reported well-being. In another study, no relationship was found between having SEN and the student’s perception of the inclusion climate at school (Schwab, Sharma, & Loreman, 2018). Other researchers also stressed the importance of being accepted by and receiving peer support from classmates (e.g. Bossaert, Colpin, Pijl, & Petry, 2011). According to De Vroey, Struyf, and Petry (2016), supporting relationships are the common theme that mark inclusive culture in secondary schools.
Although well-being has been a much-discussed issue (see e.g. Bücker et al., 2018), not much research has been conducted on the well-being of students in an inclusive education setting. More specifically, the well-being of students with SEN did not have much attention in research so far. As a result of more inclusive classes, it is important to know how students, with and without SEN, perceive their school well-being and examine which variables relate to this. Hence, the aim of the present study is therefore to answer the following questions:
- How do students perceive their well-being at school and is there a difference in this respect between students with and without special educational needs?
- Which variables relate to students’ well-being at school and is there a difference in this relationship for students with and without special educational needs?
For the purposes of this study, a student with special educational needs was defined as a student for whom there is an individual education plan, and/or for whom a specific approach or extra help is needed, and/or who has a specific problem or learning difficulty (see Van der Veen, Smeets, & Derriks, 2010; Smeets & Roeleveld, 2016). In the present study, well-being at school not only refers to the student’s perceived overall well-being at school, but includes well-being with the teacher or mentor, and well-being with classmates/peers.
Design and procedure The data presented in this session were taken from a larger longitudinal study that is part of the national evaluation of the current inclusive education policy. In this session, the data will be presented of the second measurement, that have been collected in 2018 in both regular primary and secondary education. Participants Data were available from 2125 students attending grades 6 and 8 of regular primary schools, and 2578 students attending the 1st and 3rd grade of regular secondary education. The ages ranged from 9-16 years. Instruments A student self-report questionnaire was used that contains several subscales. Most of these subscales have been used in previous other Dutch studies (e.g. Driessen et al., 2015), as well as during the first measurement of the present study. The instrument includes the following subscales: - well-being with the teacher; - well-being with peers; - well-being with parents; - school well-being; - cognitive self-esteem; - task motivation; - teacher’s classroom management; - teacher’s pedagogical actions. Subscales consisted of four to eight statements, and students were asked to indicate on a five-point Likert scale to what extent they agreed with the statement. Cronbach α coefficients were calculated. With α values of .71 to .91 the subscales proved to be of sufficient reliability. An example of the subscale well-being with the teacher is ‘I feel comfortable with my teacher’. An example of the subscale well-being with peers is ‘I have much contact with my classmates’. Schools were asked to indicate which students were students with special educational needs. In addition, teachers were asked to complete the ‘SEN Profile Questionnaire’ (Smeets & Roeleveld, 2016) for a maximum of four randomly picked students with SEN in the teacher’s class. In this questionnaire, teachers were asked to provide details about the nature and severity of the student’s problems and/or disorders and about the support provided to the student. Scale variables were constructed, including externalising and internalising problem behaviour. In addition to the instruments described, questionnaires were completed by teachers and by special educational needs coordinators of the schools. These included subscales that address teachers’ attitudes, competencies, and self-efficacy, school culture, and supporting actions from the school leader. Analysis Descriptive analysis, group comparisons and (multilevel) regression analyses were conducted to answer the research questions. Data from the questionnaires that were completed by teachers and by special educational needs coordinators are included in the multilevel analyses.
Preliminary results show that students with SEN have significantly lower scores on school well-being, compared to typically developing students. Moreover, the scores on well-being with the teachers, with parents and with peers are also significantly lower for students with SEN than for typically developing students. This also applies to the cognitive self-esteem of students. School well-being is associated with the well-being with peers, well-being with the teacher and well-being with parents. Correlations range from 0.29-0.41. Based on regression analyses, however, the conclusion can be drawn that other variables play a more important part in predicting the student’s school well-being than having SEN, e.g. well-being with the teacher and with peers, and the student’s task motivation. Currently, the multilevel analyses are conducted to analyse the relationship of the student’s well-being and other variables at the student level, variables at the teacher level, and variables at the school level. In addition, analyses will address potential differences in the association for different types of SEN. These results will be presented at the ECER as well as the above mentioned results. Based on these preliminary results it can be concluded that the well-being of students with SEN is significantly less than that of typically developing students, but other variables account for this outcome. During the presentation, this matter will be discussed in more detail.
Bossaert, G., Colpin, H., Pijl, S.J., & Petry, K. (2011). “Truly Included? A Literature Study Focusing on the Social Dimension of Inclusion in Education.” International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17, 1–20. Bücker, S., Nuraydin, S., Simonsmeier, B.A., Schneider, M., & Luhmann, M. (2018). Subjective well-being and academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 74, 83–94. De Vroey, A., Struyf, E., & Petry, K. (2016). Secondary schools included: a literature review. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20, 109-135. Driessen, G., Elshof, D., Mulder, L., & Roeleveld, J. (2015). Cohortonderzoek COOL 5-18. Technisch rapport basisonderwijs, derde meting 2013/14. [COOL 5-18 Cohort Study. Technical Report Primary Education, third measurement occasion, 2013/14]. Nijmegen / Amsterdam: ITS / Kohnstamm Instituut. Gaspar, T., Ribeiro, José Pais, de Matos, Margarida Gaspar, Leal, I., Ferreira, Aristides, & Ravens-Sieberer, U. (2012). Health-related quality of life in children and adolescents: Subjective well-being. The Spanish journal of psychology, 15, 177–186. Hilgenkamp, T., Wijck, R., & Evenhuis, H. (2011). (Instrumental) activities of daily living in older adults with intellectual disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 1977–1987. OECD (2017). PISA 2015 Results (Volume III): Students’ Well-Being. Paris: OECD Publishing. Palmer, S., Heyne, L., Montie, J., Abery, B., & Gaylord, V. (Eds.). (Spring/Summer 2011). Impact: Feature Issue on Supporting the Social Well-Being of Children and Youth with Disabilities, 24(1). [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration]. Schwab, S., Sharma, U., & Loreman, T. (2018). Are we included? Secondary students' perception of inclusion climate in their schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 75, 31-39. Smeets, E., & Roeleveld, J. (2016). The Identification by Teachers of Special Educational Needs in Primary School Pupils and Factors Associated with Referral to Special Education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 31, 423-439. Van der Veen, I., Smeets, E., & Derriks, M. (2010). Children with special educational needs in the Netherlands: number, characteristics and school career. Educational Research, 52, 15–43.
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