04 SES 09 B, Collaborative Teaching II
Parallel Paper Session
In the UK the Warnock Report (1978), and in Scotland, the HMI Report (1978) and the subsequent Education (Scotland) Act 1981 (HMSO, 1981) advocated inclusion of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) into mainstream schools. Such a major shift in policy required additional staff, and it was this increase in pupils with SEN in mainstream schools that was the most important factor influencing the change in the make-up of school staffing and the development of the provision of classroom assistants in Scottish classrooms. There are now 4292 (FTE) classroom assistants, 3191 (FTE) ASN Auxiliaries or care assistants and 1072 (FTE) other classroom staff supporting pupils in Scottish primary schools (Scottish Government, 2010). For O’ Brien and Garner (2001) it is these very classroom assistants that are responsible for ‘…some of the most challenging and complex needs…’ and that are ‘…pivotal to the development of successful inclusive practice’ (2001:1). Stead et al. (2007) agree, stating that classroom assistants play an important, sometimes “critical role in maintaining some pupils in mainstream education” (2007: 186). Scotland is not alone in its use of support staff. In the Netherlands, there has been a long history of classroom assistants in primary schools working in a supportive way with young children and their teachers. In France ‘surveillants’ have contributed to the supervision of pupils whilst ‘aide-educateurs’ mainly take on a pedagogic role in direct support for learning. In Belgium ‘agents contractuels subventionnes’ are involved in childcare in pre-school settings or assisting children to learn a foreign language. Research from Scotland suggests that classroom assistants come from quite narrow range of backgrounds in terms of age, ethnicity and, especially, gender, with a predominance of middle-aged, working class women in the profession. Both Schlapp et al. (2001) and Wilson et al. (2002) reported that classroom assistants were mostly women, with over half aged 35-44 years old, and many who are mothers. Schlapp et al. (2001) not only commented on the under-representation of men and younger women, but also of minority ethnic classroom assistants in the workforce as a whole. Such similar backgrounds have the potential to lead to the construction of similar social identities, which could play a crucial part in how their roles are defined and how they themselves define their roles with management, teachers, pupils and parents. However, to understand such constructions one must look at social identity through the lens of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) as to understand social identity fully it is crucial to be aware of the interrelationship between the variables that construct social identity. In relation to classroom assistants specific focus on the intersection of class and gender, through the use of feminist critiques of class, is essentially to aid understanding. Feminist thought on ‘performativity’ (Walkerdine, 1989, Butler, 1990) can then be synthesised with Bourdieu’s (1984) work on class and consumption to argue that class is a performance and that it is the intersection of these two performances that can provide crucial insights into the ways in which classroom assistant’s identities.
ARNESEN, A-L., MIETOLA, R. & LAHELMA, E. (2007) ‘Language of inclusion and diversity: policy discourses and social practices in Finnish and Norwegian schools’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 11 (1), pp. 97-110. BARKHAM, J. (2008) ‘Suitable work for women? Roles, relationships and changing identities of 'other adults' in the early years classroom’, British Educational Research Journal, 34, (6), pp. 839-853. BOURDIEU, P. (1984) Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. London: Routledge. CRENSHAW, K. (1989) ‘Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics’, University of Chicago Legal Forum, Volume 1989, pp. 139-167. BUTLER, J. (1990) Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge. LAWSON, H., PARKER, M. & SIKES, P. (2006) ‘Seeking stories: reflections on a narrative approach to researching understandings of inclusion’, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 21 (1), pp 55-68. MOYLES, J. & SUSHITZKY, W. (1997) ‘Jills of all trades?’ Classroom Assistants in KS1 Classes’. London. Association of Teachers and Lecturers. O’ BRIEN, T. & GARNER, P. (2001) Untold Stories: Learning Support Assistants and their work. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books. SCHLAPP & DAVIDSON (2001) Classroom Assistants in Scottish Primary Schools. Edinburgh: SCRE. SIKES, P., LAWSON, H. & PARKER, M. (2007) ‘Voices On: teachers and teaching assistants talk about inclusion’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 11 (3), pp. 355-370. STEAD, J., LLOYD, G., MUNN, P., RIDDELL, S., KANE, J. & MACLEOD, G. (2007) ‘Supporting our most challenging pupils with our lowest status staff: Can additional staff in Scottish schools offer a distinctive kind of help?, Scottish Educational Review, 29 (2), pp. 186-197. WALKERDINE, V. (1989) ‘Femininity as Performance’, Oxford Review of Education, 15 (3), pp. 267-279. WILSON, V., SCHLAPP, U., DAVIDSON, J. (2001) ‘An ‘Extra Pair of Hands’?: Managing classroom assistants in Scottish Primary Schools’. Glasgow: SCRE.
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