04 SES 09 A, Attitudes towards Students with SEN in Mainstream Schools
On the assumption that the successful implementation of any educational reform is largely dependent on educators being positive about it, a number of studies have been undertaken examining teacher’s attitudes towards inclusion. The great majority of these studies have employed traditional quantitative research designs that view ‘attitudes’ as solely personal thus investigating ‘individualistic’ experiences of inclusion. By contrast, a social constructivist perspective acknowledges that attitudes are context dependent and responsive to factors within a particular sociocultural environment. Based on this perspective, the study upon which this paper draws sought to elicit teachers’ experiences and attitudes towards inclusion. Fieldwork was conducted in seven primary schools in the North of England representing a continuum of inclusion approaches and involved interviewing of 27 teachers. Teacher attitudes were explored with reference to the institutional contexts and to wider Local Authority’s policies. The teachers’ accounts were supplemented with pupil sociometric data to gain a more holistic understanding of the outcomes of the various inclusive arrangements. The paper concludes by highlighting the need for schools to establish cultures which minimise assumptions of difference and provides some recommendations for developing critical professional development courses that can result in attitudinal change and the formulation of genuinely inclusive practices.
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