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Who Should do What to Whom?: Occupational Groups´Views on Special Needs
Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4793-871X
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to increase our knowledge of different occupational groups´ views on work with children in need of special support. This is explored in four separate studies.

The first study investigates the views of occupational groups in preschools and schools in one municipality. A questionnaire was handed out to all personnel (N=1297) in the municipality in 2008 (72.5 % response rate). The second study explores the views of educational leaders (N=45) in the same municipality. Questionnaire # 2 was distributed in 2009. All the educational leaders responded to the questionnaire. The third study describes the views of different occupational groups concerning special educational needs coordinators´ (SENCOs) role and work. This was highlighted by comparing responses from questionnaire #1 and # 2. Responses concerning SENCOs´ work were also added using a third questionnaire. This questionnaire was handed out in 2006 to chief education officers (N=290) in all municipalities in Sweden. The response rate was 90.3%. Finally, the fourth study presents five head teachers´ descriptions of their work with special needs issues. Study four was a follow-up study of questionnaire # 2. These head teachers were selected because of their inclusive values and because they seemed to be effective according to certain criteria. They were interviewed in January 2012.

The results reveal a number of interesting findings. For example, there are both similar and different views among the occupational groups concerning work with children in need of special support. A majority of the respondents in all groups state that children´s individual deficiencies is one common reason why children need special support in preschools/schools. Differences between the occupational groups become especially visible regarding their views of SENCOs‟ work.

Critical pragmatism (Cherryholmes, 1988) is applied as a theoretical point of departure. Skrtic´s (1991) critical reading and analysis of special education relative to general education is specifically used to interpret and discuss the outcome of the studies. Additionally, Abbott´s (1988) reasoning concerning the “division of expert labor” is used to discuss the occupational groups´ replies concerning “who should do what to whom”.

The findings in the studies are contextualized and theoretically interpreted in the separate articles. However in the first part of this thesis (in Swedish: Kappa), the theoretical interpretations of the empirical outcome are discussed in more detail and the results are further contextualized and synthesised. Inclusion and premises for inclusive education are also discussed in more depth in the first part of the present thesis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: School of Education and Communication Jönköping University , 2013. , 248 p.
Series
Dissertation. School of Education and Communication, ISSN 1652-7933 ; 22
Keyword [en]
Occupational groups, children in need of special support, views, special needs, inclusion, SENCOs, educational leaders, preschools and schools
National Category
Social Sciences Educational Sciences
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-13397ISBN: 978-91-628-8863-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-13397DiVA: diva2:669055
Public defence
2013-12-13, Föreläsningssal 6, Högskolan Dalarna, Falun, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2015-03-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Different agendas? The views of different occupational groups on special needs education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Different agendas? The views of different occupational groups on special needs education
2011 (English)In: European Journal of Special Needs Education, ISSN 0885-6257, E-ISSN 1469-591X, Vol. 26, no 2, 143-157 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the present paper is to investigate how different occupational groups explain why children have problems in school, how they believe schools should help these children and the role they believe that special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) should have in such work. A questionnaire was distributed to all teaching and support staff in a Swedish municipality (N=1297). As a result, 938 persons (72.5%) answered the questionnaire. The answers given by (a) preschool teachers (b) teacher assistants (c) SENCOs (d) special teachers (e) class teachers and (f) subject teachers were compared. Several interesting patterns emerged from the data indicating that the occupational groups to a large extent have different ideas concerning how the school should work with children in need of special support. The SENCOs were, for example, the only group that believed that they should be involved in school development. The outcome of the study is discussed in relation to the notion of inclusive education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2011
Keyword
Special needs; inclusive education; occupational groups; views; collaboration; professional roles
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande, Fokus på arbetet kring barn i behov av stöd i en kommun
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-5545 (URN)10.1080/08856257.2011.563604 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-06-05 Created: 2011-06-05 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. Making schools inclusive?: Educational leaders´views on how to work with children in need of special support
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Making schools inclusive?: Educational leaders´views on how to work with children in need of special support
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, ISSN 1360-3116, E-ISSN 1464-5173, Vol. 17, no 1, 95-110 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Educational leaders have a comprehensive responsibility for how preschools and schools work with children in need of special educational support. The aim of this research is to study how educational leaders (a) explain why children have problems in schools, (b) consider how preschools/schools should help children in need of special support and (c) the role they believe that Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) should have in such work. Educational leaders (N = 45) working in preschools and regular compulsory schools in a Swedish municipality responded (100%) to a questionnaire. According to the results of this study, this group seems to view difficulties in schools as being caused primarily by individual shortcomings. Educational leaders often advocate solutions that are closely linked to the work of special educators. The educational leaders believe SENCOs should work with supervising staff and focus on documentation and evaluations. Preschool leaders attribute children's need of special support to teachers more often than their colleagues in compulsory schools.

Keyword
Educational leaders; inclusive education; compulsory schools; preschools; special needs; views
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande, Fokus på arbetet kring barn i behov av stöd i en kommun
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-5615 (URN)10.1080/13603116.2011.580466 (DOI)000314152900007 ()
Available from: 2011-06-30 Created: 2011-06-30 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
3. SENCOs: Vanguards or in vain?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>SENCOs: Vanguards or in vain?
2013 (English)In: Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, ISSN 1471-3802, E-ISSN 1471-3802, Vol. 13, no 3, 198-207 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Sweden today, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) are educated at universities to help resolve educational problems related to children in need of special support at three levels, i.e. the organizational level, the classroom level and the individual level. Before the education of SENCOs was created, in the early 1990´s, special teachers were the occupational group that worked primarily on an individual level. Children’s school problems were then seen as individual deficits. SENCOs can be seen as vanguards in changing an educational system from primarily focusing on an individual perspective to a broader focus on the entire learning environment.  How has the occupational role of SENCOs affected schools? The overall aim of this study is to investigate possible changes within a school system when the introduction of a new occupational group, SENCOs, challenges established structures. More specifically, this paper studies how different occupational groups view where, and in what ways, SENCOs work and should work. Three different questionnaires are the basis of this analysis of SENCOs´ present situation within the Swedish educational system. A number of interesting findings were detected in this study. For example, several occupational groups respond that SENCOs should work with individually taught special education. Meanwhile, a pattern emerges in which SENCOs seem to have partly established a new work role. However, little is known about how these changes affect children in need of special support. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2013
Keyword
Special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs), inclusive education, municipality, occupational groups, views
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-10266 (URN)10.1111/j.1471-3802.2012.01249.x (DOI)
Available from: 2012-06-30 Created: 2012-06-30 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. Promoting inclusion?: "Inclusive" and effective head teachers´descriptions of their work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Promoting inclusion?: "Inclusive" and effective head teachers´descriptions of their work
2014 (English)In: European Journal of Special Needs Education, ISSN 0885-6257, E-ISSN 1469-591X, Vol. 29, no 1, 74-90 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the reported interview study from Sweden is to contribute to our understanding of how head teachers can promote inclusive practices. Five head teachers were selected from a larger sample of head teachers working in compulsory schools (6–16) according to specific criteria in order to obtain head teachers who work effectively and express inclusive values relative to a relational perspective. The interviews were semi-structured, and a thematic analysis was performed. Head teachers’ strategies were in focus. The theoretical point of departure is critical pragmatism. Overall the five head teachers reported similar strategies. The head teachers describe the importance of educational leadership through observation and participation in activities in the classrooms. They advocate flexibility in the solutions provided for students in need of special support preferring solutions carried out in the regular classroom by the class/subject teacher. Head teachers see special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) as important partners in their work towards more inclusive practices. Head teachers express the importance of consensus among their staff. They seem to welcome government’s increasing demands and steering concerning how head teachers should manage their schools. Finally, it is discussed whether the head teachers can be said to work ‘inclusively’ and, more generally, the methodological challenges researchers must confront in studies concerning ‘inclusive’ education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2014
Keyword
head teachers, inclusion, successful schools, leadership, strategies, methodological challanges
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-13218 (URN)10.1080/08856257.2013.849845 (DOI)000343600000006 ()
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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