04 SES 08 C, Working In The Inclusive Classroom: Are Teachers Really Prepared?
Despite a long history of integrated special and general education in the form of adapted education, Norway has seen an increase in children receiving special education support. A recent national report (Nordahl et al., 2018) finds that support systems are not effective and create excluding special education systems. Additionally, most children receive support from personnel lacking in appropriate competences (Nordahl et al., 2018).
In Norway the existence of a school system for everyone has helped make the country a world-leader in terms of social equality, as can be seen with one of the lowest differences in income gap between the richest and poorest (Gini coefficient of 0.25, OECD, 2016, p. 103). By integrating their special and general education laws in 1975 Norway pre-empted international calls for integration and inclusion. This change brought in the new terminology of adapted education (Tilpasset opplæring in Norwegian), and this principle – comparable with integration and inclusion – intended to remove the distinction between “special” and “general” education such that everyone received education that fitted their learning needs, however diverse. Adapted education thus intends to integrate traditional “special education” with general teaching and deliver everything in the general classroom. However an intention of an ideology-based practice was created where the understanding and practise of adapted education do not necessarily converge, leading to ongoing discussion and critique (Nordahl et al., 2018).
Adapted education challenged traditional teaching knowledge and approaches in Norway. At the curriculum-level it was taken as a general principle comparable with integration and inclusion, however this led to an intention of an ideology-based practice. Intentions tend to be an abstraction that reflect values, but less on how these values will be executed in practice. Consequently uncertainty often manifests as a result of various conflicts and dilemmas as the way adapted education is understood and practised do not converge (G. Maxwell, 2019). One specific example is that of value-conflicts relating to the prioritizing of some pupils over others collide with the general intention to treat all pupils equally.
However, despite being early to implement integrated inclusive education policies, in common with other countries Norway has seen an increase in the number of children receiving traditional special education (Markussen, Strømstad, Carlsten, Hausstätter, & Nordahl, 2007) with figures stabilising in the last 4-5 years at around 8% (Statistics Norway, 2018, p. 10).
New teacher-education in Norway
Recently Norway has significantly revised its teacher education programmes to bring in a 5-year master-level qualification in teaching for all newly trained teachers. The programme was piloted in Oslo and Tromsø from 2010-2016 and launched nationally in 2017. The changes were brought about mainly to address challenges in schools, where a relatively low performance of pupils in core subjects was occurring along with a general low level of qualifications for teachers. The new teacher training programme was piloted by the teacher training departments at the Universities of Oslo and Tromsø from 2010-2016 and rolled out nationally in 2017.
This paper present findings from a study of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) during and after completing the new 5-year teacher-training programme. Specifically, this paper aims to look at why NQTs feel inadequately prepared to work inclusively.
Specific research questions:
- How prepared are NQTs for handling pupils with additional support needs?
- How do the NQTs experience teaching students with additional support needs?
Based on the analysis, we will discuss consequences of the findings, in order to promote inclusive education in Norway.
To compare the new teacher-training programme’s aims and intentions with practical outcomes, recent NQTs from UiT were surveyed and interviewed at various time points to create a longitudinal study. This paper focuses on the qualitative, text-based transcripts from interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Interviews were carried out with 30 graduating students of both genders a few days after submitting their Master theses in 2015 and 2016 and after one and two years in service. An open-ended semi-structured guide (Kvale, 2008) was developed and adapted for each year of the data collection to capture changes in the students’ experiences related to their work and social life as NQTs. The interviews also focused on NQTs’ experiences of their research-based knowledge gained in education and how it is received at their new workplace as well as professional development. The interviews lasted from 45 to 60 minutes and were recorded and transcribed. The analysis intends to capture the perceived interpretative realities of the NQTs. First, data were interpreted inductively by sorting all similar thematic statements together with broad-brush or bucket coding in NVivo 12 (Bazeley, 2007). To determine overarching themes, the process included coding whole sentences and sequences based on their content. We used process memos to write down researcher reflections with the purpose of generating ideas for categorising the data (J. A. Maxwell, 2012). After the initial bucket coding, the material was recoded by merging similar codes or deleting codes with few statements. The included codes contained frequently used statements and that explained actions and processes that the informants found important. Next, we used whiteboards as a creative visual tool for finding and qualifying an explanatory relation among the categories (J. A. Maxwell, 2012). We then summarised the informants’ experiences into a table to visualise similarities and differences. We then connected the codes to our theoretical framework to deeper understanding about the NQTs’ experiences. To summarise findings we created theoretical categories that explained how NQTs experience differently how schools enable and constrain their professional development and the use of their knowledge-base in their induction phase. As the researchers found consensus, this triangulation strengthened the inter-rater reliability of the analytical work. Findings from qualitative studies are generally not valid for all contexts and organisations. A detailed description of this specific case makes it possible for others to use the findings in understanding similar social contexts (Hellström, 2008).
Initial findings suggest NQTs feel their training is inadequate regarding inclusive education competences, despite now being trained to a higher level; it is also still expected that “special education” is done by specialists. Specifically, NQTs highlighted that they feel unprepared to meet diversity within the pupil population. Specific themes included: ethnic diversity, language minority, behavioural problems, trauma, and specific diagnosis groups. These findings directly contradict the ethos of adapted education and highlight pervasive and ongoing challenges with its implementation. The perceived lack in special education competence within the general teacher population was highlighted as early as 1987 (Eskland, 1987). One explanation is that the broad conceptualization of adapted education means that it has not been embraced by either general or special education professions (Bakke, 2017, p. 157). Results suggest teacher training has not integrated special education into its new programme. Teachers still lack practical competencies in how to operationalize adapted education, and are thus more likely to refer cases to specialists; placing additional load there and reinforcing divisions between the “normal” and “abnormal” – something adapted education is meant to alleviate. This also potentially explains the increase in Norway of children receiving special education outwith of adapted education (Markussen et al., 2007) - a trend in common with other countries. Findings confirm that a serious problem with Norway’s adapted education is the gap between inclusive education and the general teacher community. Teacher education programmes inadequately prepare teachers to work inclusively, fail to integrate special education into their curriculum, and perpetuate a distinction between “special” and “general” education; findings also supported by Nordahl et al. (2018). If Norway is to continue the ideal of the inclusive Nordic education system then the gap between “special” and “general” education requires bridging in order to fully realize the intentions of adapted education.
Bakke, J. (2017). Tilpasset opplæring i skole og samfunn. In V. D. Haugen & G. Stølen (Eds.), Pedagogisk mangfold : i et samfunnsperspektiv (pp. 146-164). Oslo: Universitetsforl. Bazeley, P. (2007). Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo. London: Sage Publications. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa Eskland, S. (1987). En skole for alle juridiske aspekter. Skolepsykologi, 22(4), 3-13. Hellström, T. (2008). Transferability and Naturalistic Generalization: New Generalizability Concepts for Social Science or Old Wine in New Bottles? Quality & Quantity, 42(3), 321-337. doi:10.1007/s11135-006-9048-0 Kvale, S. (2008). Doing interviews. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Markussen, E., Strømstad, M., Carlsten, T. C., Hausstätter, R., & Nordahl, T. (2007). Inkluderende spesialundervisning? Om utfordringer innenfor spesialundervisningen i 2007 (8272185342). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11250/279073 Maxwell, G. (2019). Schooling for everyone: Norway’s adapted approaches to education for everyone. In M. Beaton, D. Hirschberg, G. Maxwell, & J. Spratt (Eds.), Including the North: Comparative studies of inclusion policies in the circumpolar north. Rovaniemi: University of Lapland. Maxwell, J. A. (2012). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (Vol. 41). Thousand Oaks: Sage publications. Nordahl, T., Persson, B., Brørup Dyssegaard, C., Wessel Hennestad, B., Vaage Wang, M., Martinsen, J., . . . Johnsen, T. (2018). Inkluderende Fellesskap for Barn og unge [Inclusive Community for Children and Young People]: Ekspertgruppen for barn og unge med behov for særskilt tilrettelegging. Retrieved from Bergen: OECD. (2016). Society at a Glance 2016: OECD Social Indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing. Statistics Norway. (2018). Facts about education in Norway 2018. Key figures 2016 (D. o. E. Statistics, Trans. M. o. E. a. Research Ed.). Oslo: Statistics Norway, Division for Education Statistics.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.