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Inclusion in Context

Policy, Practice and Pedagogy

Órla Ní Bhroin

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.

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Chapter 2: Policy Transformation, Conceptualisations of Inclusion and Implications for Practice

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Chapter 2 Policy Transformation, Conceptualisations of Inclusion and Implications for Practice Introduction Reiterating that the study’s problem is shaped by rapid and successive policy reforms relating to the education of children with special educational needs and by the many and varied definitions and concepts of inclusion giving rise to multiple interpretations in practice, the focus of this chapter is policy transformation over the past two decades, conceptualisations of inclusion and implications for teachers’ practice. Inclusion is a relatively recent phenomenon in Irish education. In 1998, legislation was introduced enshrining the legal right of all children to an appropriate education in the school of the parents’ choice. A series of policy documents and cir- culars followed, providing direction and guidelines on the promotion of increasingly inclusive practices relating to allocation of resources for and education of children with special educational needs. These initiatives represented a watershed for mainstream primary schools. Accustomed to a culture where children with special educational needs were educated in the separate setting of special school or special class, for the first time in State history, teachers in mainstream primary schools were officially required to provide appropriate and inclusive education for all. This policy transforma- tion from segregation to inclusion was influenced by international trends, “principally informed by government-sponsored initiatives … combined with very effective parental litigation” (Griffin & Shevlin, 2007, p. 49), and supported by a number of measures. Documenting policy transformation from segregation to inclusion and its implications for teachers’ practice, this chapter is in four sections. 14...

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