Agius Ferrante, Charmaine (2012) A case study of inclusion and diversity: a whole school approach using the social model of disability. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.
This thesis evaluates the experiences of a Maltese school that decided to embrace the philosophy of inclusion. It provides a synthesis of knowledge about the processes of inclusive education, derived from the experience of the main stakeholders in the school. The main research question being: “What changes does the implementation of the Social Model of Disability that focuses on abilities and skills rather than labelling and deficit have on a school population?” Specifically, the study investigated:
· The practices within the school that enable inclusion.
· The experience of students, students’ parents, teachers, learning support assistants (LSAs) and administrators.
· Whether or not, and if so, how disabled students are participating, active members of the school.
· The effect of inclusion on the school community/culture.
A case study approach is used in order to evaluate this school’s process of inclusion and its ramifications on stakeholders. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used, along with a triangulation of questionnaires, focus groups, semi-structure interviews and observations. A thematic analysis supported by descriptive statistics was used within an interpretative approach of hermeneutic phenomenology. This research contributes theory to the following three areas in:
1. Offering a different model for an inclusive school.
2. The use of innovative structures in school management.
3. The changes brought about by valuing the education of disabled students.
The findings show a general positive attitude towards inclusive education and suggest that inclusive education heightens the awareness of each interrelated aspect of the school as a community, challenges stereotypes, and promotes contextually relevant research. The work concludes with a series of possible future directions for research and a critical reflection that is needed to help educators achieve progress towards philosophical and practical ideals of a socially and academically just education.
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Mr and Mrs Black live about 7 miles from Strabane. They have three children, two already attending the local 3 teacher school. Their youngest child Ben has autism. They had been hoping he could attend the same school as his siblings but they have said they don’t feel they can cope, so reluctantly Mr and Mrs Black looked around for another mainstream school. Because of his severe problems it proved difficult to find such a place.
Eventually a larger school with an impressive record of teaching children with special needs, agreed to take Ben on a trial basis although they did suggest he be placed in their special unit rather than in an ordinary class. In P1 he was first allocated 15 hours a week support from a classroom assistant but despite this he still had tantrums where he screeched at the top of his voice, lay under the tables and wandered the room constantly. His support was increased to 25 hours. Despite this he was never able to stay in school beyond mid-day. The year had been very difficult for the class teacher – she had had to restructure her whole class, sometimes having the classroom assistant leading the rest of the class while she attempted to teach Ben. Despite regular entreaties to the parents they insisted he could cope with mainstream education, until eventually the principal was forced to tell them Ben would be suspended unless they agreed to placing him in the special unit attached to the school. This they reluctantly agreed to do.