04 SES 07 C, Teachers' Perspectives On Inclusion: Taking Stock
Over the last few years Latvia’s educational policies concerning the education of students with special needs (SN) have shifted in favour of inclusive education, especially since 2014, when the Education Development Guidelines were adopted in Latvia (Izglītības attīstības pamatnostādnes 2014. [Education Development Guidelines], 2013). Even before that the inclusion in schools were based on the principle that was declared by the Education Law of Latvia (Izglītības likums, 1998) that local schools should enrol all children from the local community, although it did not necessary meant that local school provided for the educational needs of all the children in their community. The changes in the policy have increased the numbers of children with special needs in the general schools. The new demands to general education teachers to include children with special needs into the general school classes has been a professionally challenging for teachers. Teachers have to have certain competences to work inclusively in the classroom (Nīmante, 2018). Insufficient competence or lack of it can hinder inclusive education (Rozenfelde, 2016). As it is stated by worldwide research, the teacher is the key element to implement inclusion successfully at the classroom level. Therefore, teachers themselves need to be cared for and supported in a caring and inclusive learning community (Swart, Oswald, 2008). While support for teachers for inclusive education would be self-evident, there is not enough research to investigate this issue. Yet there are some examples of good practices. Well establish practice of Teacher support teams (TST) works in England, where TST is implemented as a voluntary, teacher centred strategy to enhance provision for children with special needs (Norwich, Daniels, Anghileri, 1994, Creese, Norwich, Daniels, 2000). The aim of TST is solving, managing or easing teaching problems connected with inclusion of children with special needs. Teacher assistant is another strategy to provide a support for including children with special needs and to teachers. TA promotes the inclusion of children with special needs, by providing necessary assistance to the child with special needs and fostering peer relationship (Jardí, Puigdellívol, Petreñas, 2018). In 2013 the study conducted in Latvia found that there are a number of obstacles to inclusive education that is directly related to insufficient support provided - there are not enough support specialists (speech therapists, psychologists, special education teachers), there is not enough infrastructure (custom rooms, elevators, technical aids, training materials, workbooks), and the schools are underfunded (Rozenfelde, 2016). Since 2013, no research has been conducted on this issue in Latvia, therefore the paper examines what necessary support is needed to Latvian teacher for including children with special needs in the general classroom?
This paper presents a part of the research project “Study on the financial model for support services for children with special needs in the context of the implementation of inclusive education in Latvia” which was conducted by the team of researchers of University of Latvia from May till December, 2017. (Malgožata, Nīmante, Umbraško, Šūmane, Martinsone, Žukovska, 2017).
An original survey (Survey of Teachers of Mainstream school) with 101 questions on inclusive and special education during the research project “Study on the financial model for support services for children with special needs in the context of the implementation of inclusive education in Latvia” was created. The part of the questionnaire was devoted to the necessary support for teachers for inclusive education. In this paper there will be analysed 8 questions, two of them are open questions, one question has one possible answer from several proposed variants, in this case the total percentage of answer variations is 100%, but the rest with 5-13 multiple choice. To collect the data there were used Google's polling environment, information and invitation to fill out the questionnaire for each teacher were distributed by Ministry of Education and Science (MES) supported by the General Education Department, sending all schools an e-mail. The total number of teachers were 214 (N=214), of which 47 was schools’ management representatives. Teachers were representing all types of educational institutions from pre-school to high school/gymnasium. Most teachers noted that they work in elementary school (78%) and high school (55%) and, other teacher work in preschools, professional schools, etc. The distribution of teachers by age shows that the most active respondents' group was between the ages of 46-60 (53% of teachers and 77% of schools’ management representatives) and the least number of teachers participated in the study aged over 61 (7% and 4% respectively). For analysing the answers on the surveys items with multiple choice answers was used descriptive statistical methods, responses in open questions were analysed according to the principles of thematic analysis, first dividing the units of the content of the answers, then grouping them into sub-topics and closing the categories at the end.
Results are indicating five most important support elements by teachers that are necessary to include children with special needs: First of all, there should be ready-made and freely accessible methodological support materials and technical aids. Secondly, there should be teacher assistants, which is essential support element for inclusive education. Thirdly, there should be provided some extra financial support for extra work with children with special needs. Fourthly, there should be some further education provided for teachers to learn how to work with children with special needs. Fifthly, there should be some identification tool for teachers to identify children special needs. In response to open questions, teachers have explained and justified their choices. The results partly coincide with a study by Rozenfelde (2016) and indicates that there has not been much development since 2013. As it is stated by Low, that inclusion may fail because it is inadequately resourced (Low, 2007). If the teachers in Latvia will lack methodological materials, there will be insufficient financial support, there will be not enough knowledge and extra human resources, there is a risk for poor implementation of inclusive education.
1.Creese, A, Norwich, B., Daniels, H. (2000). Evaluating Teacher Support Teams in secondary schools: supporting teachers for SEN and other needs. Research Papers in Education, 15(3), 307-324. 2.Izglītības attīstības pamatnostādnes 2014.-2020. [Education Development Guidelines] (2013) Izglītības ministrija: Rīga. doi: http://www.lsa.lv/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Izglitibasattistibaspamatnostadnes.pdf 3.Jardí, A., Puigdellívol, I., Petreñas, C. (2018). Teacher assistants’ roles in Catalan classrooms: promoting fair and inclusion-oriented support for all. International Journal of Inclusive Education. doi: https://datubazes.lanet.lv:4876/10.1080/13603116.2018.1545876 4.Low, C. (2007). A defence of moderate inclusion and the end of ideology. Included or Excluded?, edited by R. Cigman, 3-15. London: Routledge. 5.Nīmante, D. (2018). Competent Teacher for Inclusive Education: What Does it Mean for Latvia? In: Innovations, Technologies and Research in Education (Ed. Daniela, L.), UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 229-244.pp. 362. 6.Norwich, B., Daniels, H. & Anghileri, N. (1994). Teacher support teams in primary schools. Education 3-13, International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 22(3), 44-49. 7.Raščevska, M., Nīmante, D., Umbraško, S., Šūmane, I. Martinsone, B., Žukovska, I. (2017). Pētījums par bērniem ar speciālām vajadzībām sniedzamo atbalsta pakalpojumu izmaksu modeli iekļaujošas izglītības īstenošanas kontekstā. URL: http://www.izm.gov.lv/images/izglitiba_visp/IZMiepirkumamLUPPMFgalaparskats08122017.pdf 8.Rozenfelde, M. (2016). Skolēnu ar speciālajām vajadzībām iekļaušanas vispārējās izglītības iestādēs atbalsta sistēma, Promocijas darbs doktora zinātniskā grāda iegūšanai pedagoģijā, speciālajā pedagoģijā [System of Inclusion of Students with Special Needs in General Education Institutions, Doctoral Thesis for Doctoral Degree in Pedagogy, Special Pedagogy] R: Latvijas Universitāte.doi: http://dspace.lu.lv/dspace/bitstream/handle/7/32003/298-55964-Rozenfelde_Marite_mr16007.pdf?sequence=1 9.Swart, E., Oswald, M. (2008). How teachers navigate their learning in developing inclusive learning communities. Education as Change, 12(2), 91-108. doi: https://datubazes.lanet.lv:4876/10.1080/16823200809487209.
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