• Assessing the inclusivity of three mainstream secondary schools in England: challenges and dilemmas

      Dimitrellou, Eleni; Hurry, Jane; Male, Dawn; University of Derby; Institute of Education, University of Derby, Derby, UK; Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK; Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (Taylor & Francis, 2018-08-21)
      The notion of inclusion has gained momentum worldwide, with most countries around the world embracing inclusive policies in their educational systems. However, there is still an ongoing debate as to what is inclusion and hence, the consequent challenge of coming up with an agreed definition, which could then be used to plan for and subsequently, evaluate, inclusion. This study adds to our understanding of inclusion by contrasting objective (i.e. School Census Statistics) and subjective (i.e. self- report questionnaire) measures of inclusivity in three mainstream secondary schools in England and by comparing the perceptions of school inclusivity of different groups of educational practitioners and pupils. The results of this study indicate that inclusion is a ‘slippery’ construct as the perception of inclusion of educational practitioners was found to be affected by their role at school while pupil perception on this matter depended upon their SEND category. However, despite these subjective differences in the way inclusion is perceived, there was also substantial agreement across the different categories of participants with regard to the relative ranking of inclusivity across the three schools suggesting that coming up with overarching themes on what is inclusion is achievable. The article ends with explaining the benefits of reaching an agreed definition at a national level.
    • School belonging among young adolescents with SEMH and MLD: the link with their social relations and school inclusivity

      Dimitrellou, Eleni; Hurry, Jane; University of Derby; Institute of Education, University of Derby, Derby, UK; Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (Taylor & Francis, 2018-08-20)
      Despite the considerable institutional changes schools have made to accommodate the individual needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as underpinned by key principles of inclusion, there is still international concern about the mainstream experiences pupils with SEND have in school settings. This study helps us understand the schooling experiences of pupils with behavioural difficulties and learning difficulties by investigating whether they have a sense of belonging and positive social relations and whether these vary according to the level of inclusiveness of the school ethos at the institution they attend. Perceived social relations and feelings of belonging of 1,440 (282 SEND) young adolescents from three secondary mainstream settings that differ in inclusivity, were analysed using a self-reporting questionnaire. Findings demonstrated that pupils with SEND are not a homogeneous group, as pupils with behavioural difficulties were found to have less of a sense of belonging, and social relations than those with learning difficulties. It was also found that the sense of belonging of both groups is associated with their positive perceived relations with teachers and their inclusiveness of school ethos. These findings contribute as they offer ways of enhancing the sense of belonging of pupils with behavioural and learning difficulties in schools.
    • Understanding what makes a positive school experience for pupils with SEND: Can their voices inform inclusive practice?

      Dimitrellou, Eleni; Male, Dawn; University of Derby; UCL Institute of Education (Wiley, 2019-04-25)
      Since the advent of the ideology of inclusion, several concerns have been raised worldwide regarding the effectiveness of its implementation. In the UK, governmental evidence suggests that maintaining pupils with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) within mainstream school settings, is one of the greatest challenges (DfE, 2018). There is now, more than ever, the need to explore pupils with SENDs’ mainstream experiences and understand the challenges they encounter. This study explores the voices of secondary‐aged pupils with social emotional mental health difficulties and moderate learning difficulties as a way of understanding their needs and thus, facilitating their inclusion. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse data from semi‐structured interviews with 43 pupils with SEND and 8 typical pupils as a comparable group. The findings indicate that the school experiences of pupils differ based on their type of need. Yet, despite the differences, all the pupils expressed similar views on what makes a positive school experience. The four emerged themes were interesting lessons, effective control of challenging behaviour, equal allocation of teachers’ support and positive relations. The study concludes by proposing that listening to the voices of pupils with SEND can be a powerful tool to inform inclusive practice.