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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 4: Teachers’ Understandings of Inclusion


Chapter 4 Teachers’ Understandings of Inclusion Introduction In this and the following three chapters, findings on teachers’ interpreta- tions and constructions of inclusive practice for teaching children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools are presented and discussed. As indicated in Chapter 3, phase one of this two-phased research design involved interviews with eighteen teachers, nine resource teachers and nine class teachers each paired in a particular school. The purpose of these interviews was twofold: to elicit information on teachers’ understandings and interpretations of inclusion, particularly as communi- cated through policy documentation; and, to elicit teachers’ intentions in terms of constructing inclusive practice in a context which has seen rapid policy changes towards inclusion. Analysis of interview data led to the emergence of three key and interrelated themes: teachers’ interpretations of inclusion; planning for inclusion; and pedagogical practices to facilitate inclusion. Following a brief outline of participants and school contexts, the theme of teachers’ interpretations of inclusion forms the substance of the second section of this chapter and focuses on teachers’ understandings of inclusive ideology and of what including children with special educational needs means for them in theory and in practice. The focus of the third sec- tion, planning for inclusion, is on teachers’ intentions towards planning, and on how teachers go about preparing and organising for teaching all children including those with special educational needs. The third theme of pedagogical practices presented in the final section includes data on the curriculum emphases and teaching methods considered by...

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