Policy, Practice and Pedagogy
Recent years have seen a rapid policy transformation from segregation to inclusion in the education of children with special educational needs in Ireland. This book investigates how resource teachers and class teachers interpret the policy and principles of inclusion and enact these in their practice. Based on a study of nine resource teachers and nine class teachers, each paired in a particular school, it includes material from both interviews and observations of practice, providing a detailed qualitative account of the actions and interactions of teaching/learning experiences. The findings provide valuable insights into how inclusion is understood, interpreted and experienced in the classroom. They will be of interest to all those who are active in the field of education for inclusion, particularly teachers and policymakers.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 1 Introduction The introduction of the first piece of legislation relating to education in Ireland (Education Act, Government of Ireland, 1998) heralded a period of rapid policy transformation from segregation to inclusion in the educa- tion of children with special educational needs. As such, within the past two decades, the mainstream primary education system has experienced significant change in terms of its requirement to educate all children, includ- ing those with special educational needs. Such change constitutes a chal- lenge to the established practices of most teachers, as they are required to interpret knowledge of special education and the policy and principles of inclusion in their constructions of practice. However, as consistently noted (Florian, 2014; Hegarty, 2001; Winter & O’Raw, 2010), defini- tions, concepts and principles of inclusion are many and varied, contrib- uting to multiple interpretations in practice, while knowledge of special educational needs with implications for teaching and learning has to be acquired. Although legislation and policy documents make the presump- tion for inclusion, and capacity-building measures were implemented, decision-making regarding these measures “appears to have been influ- enced by reactionary coping mechanisms to manage and control the swift expansion of educational provision for children with special educational needs in the mainstream setting rather than a proactive commitment to inclusion” (Ní Bhroin, 2013, p. 114). This problematic context raises the question of how resource teachers and class teachers interpret and construct practices to include children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools. To address this issue, a...
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