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The Impact of Parent Professional Partnerships in Inclusive Education By Barbara Perry Faculty of Education University of Otago New Zealand

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Presentation on theme: "The Impact of Parent Professional Partnerships in Inclusive Education By Barbara Perry Faculty of Education University of Otago New Zealand"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Impact of Parent Professional Partnerships in Inclusive Education By Barbara Perry Faculty of Education University of Otago New Zealand

2 Authors Background: As a parent of a child with a disability and also a Lecturer in Disability Studies, I wished to review and update partnership models in Special Education. I have a son who is now thirteen years of age and in a wheelchair, and my personal belief is that partnership is even more essential when working with families who have a child with a disability.

3 What is Partnership? Partnership can mean different things to different people. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1998) defines partnership as a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or a firm with shared risks and profits.

4 Partnership Research in General Education: Over the past twenty years extensive research has been carried out by the John Hopkins University Centre, Baltimore, on School, Family and Community Partnerships in General Education by Joyce Epstein and her team.

5 Epsteins Model of Home School Partnership: SCHOOL COMMUNITY FAMILY

6 The model is drawn as a Venn diagram with three overlapping spheres, which includes internal and external structures which can either be pushed together or pulled apart by three main forces: -background and practices of schools and classrooms -time

7 Inclusion in New Zealand: Empowerment is seen as an important factor in home school partnerships by a number of authors including Shivnan, in research with Maori families, who defines empowerment as far more complex than merely enabling parents to have a voice. It involved an effective and sustaining partnership that was culturally and contextually specific (1999, p. 104).Bevan-Brown emphasised the importance of power sharing when working with Maori and the need for professionals to listen in order to learn (1993, 2002) while Parahi (1997) emphasised the importance of story telling as a tool for empowerment for Maori.

8 Reliable Alliance: Turnbull & Turnbull (2001, p. 58) developed a Reliable Alliance model based on the premise that: individual and collective empowerment occurs when families and professionals share equally the factors that constitute their resources in order to make joint decisions.

9 Features of Reliable Alliance: know yourself, knowing families honour cultural diversity, be able to affirm and build on family strengths, promote choices for families, affirm great expectations, communicate positively warrant trust and respect

10 Empowerment: Oliver & Barnes (1998, p.228) emphasise the need for parents to be in a position of empowerment when dealing with professionals and they believe that evidence of disabled involvement in service delivery, is increasing.

11 Hornbys Models: Hornby (2001) has developed a number of models:

12 A Parents Perspective: Wills (1993, p. 247) challenges professionals to begin to share the power they had in educational settings with parents: It is time to demand that the professionals, who are the gatekeepers to the resources, attend to and act on the voices of parents and of disabled people.

13 Conclusion: A number of common themes have recurred over the course of this review. The notion of the importance of empowerment for parents, power sharing in order for this to occur, honest and open channels of communication, trusting and respecting one another as well as the importance of listening have all emerged in a variety of contexts and from a number of different points of view. Sadly though, some parents of children with special needs are becoming tired about the notion of parent professional partnership as they do not believe professionals (in this context educators) are open or willing to change.

14 There are a variety of reasons why this may be the case when examining the New Zealand situation. In particular, it may be due to the increased administrative duties of the classroom teacher and consequently an increase in workload. Whatever the reason, in order for change to occur I believe this key concept of partnership between home and school, which impacts so strongly on the child who is central to this whole process must not become merely another fad.

15 Strong evidence in both New Zealand and internationally points to the impact of this critical relationship between home and school and increasingly community. I believe Fraser (2000, p. 29) understands the importance of partnership and its impact when she wrote: Teachers who value partnership work to make it happen. They realise that there is nothing to lose and much to gain by sharing and collaborating. They learn to listen carefully and attend courses that enable them to become more effective communicators. They value the input of parents, whanau and other professionals and seek to keep the focus on the students and their needs and strengths.

16 References: Bevan-Brown, J. (1993). Intellectual Disability: A Maori Perspective (Ch.11) in Ballard, K. (1993). Disability, Family Whanau and Society. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press. Brown, C. & Wills, R. (2000) Special Education 2000 – Getting it right Together? Paper presented to International Special Education Congress 2000, July. Dale, N. (1996) Working with Families of Children with Special Needs: partnership and practice. London:Routledge. Davis, K. (1993) The crafting of good clients, in: Finkelstein, V., French, S & Oliver, M.(Eds.) Disabling Barriers – enabling environments, London: Sage. Epstein, J. L. (2003). Personal correspondence. Epstein, J. L. (2001). School, Family and Community Partnerships: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools. Boulder: Westview Press. Fraser, D. (2000). Partnerships with Parents/Caregivers and Whanau (Ch. 5) in Fraser, D., Moltzen, R. & Ryba, K. (2000) Learners with Special Needs in Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

17 Hornby, G. (2003), personal correspondence. Hornby, G. (2002). Partnerships for Positive Change in Special Education in REACH Journal of Special Needs Education in Ireland, 16, 1, 3 –13. Ministry of Education. (2001). New Zealand Schools Nga Kura O Aotearoa: A Report on the Compulsary Schools Sector in New Zealand Wellington: Ministry of Education. Oliver, M. & Barnes, C. (1998). Disabled People and Social Policy: from exclusion to inclusion. Harlow: Longman. Parahi, V. & Nagel, G. (1997, August) Inana O Te Whanau Family Stories : A Qualitative Collaborative Study. Paper presented at the ICEVI Conference, Sao Paulo. Rosin, P., Whitehead, A. D., Tuchman, L., Jesien, G.S., Begun, A. & Irwin, L. (1995). Partnerships in Family-Centered Care: A Guide to Collaborative Early Intervention. Baltimore:Brookes Shivnan, S. V. (1999). An Ethnographic inquiry into the Empowerment of Maori Families within a Mainstream Early Childhood Setting. M. Ed., School of Education: University of Waikato. Turnbull, A. & Turnbull, R. (2001) Families, Professionals and Exceptionality: Collaborating for Empowerment (4 th ed.) New Jersey: Merrill. Wills, R. (1993) It is time to Stop (Ch. 13) in Ballard, K. (1994). Disability, Family Whanau and Society. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.


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