• 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.