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GLM & DSB Rethymnon 24.09.04 Investigating the education of pupils with intellectual disability in Iceland Dr. Gretar L. Marinósson & Dr. philos Dóra S.

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Presentation on theme: "GLM & DSB Rethymnon 24.09.04 Investigating the education of pupils with intellectual disability in Iceland Dr. Gretar L. Marinósson & Dr. philos Dóra S."— Presentation transcript:

1 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Investigating the education of pupils with intellectual disability in Iceland Dr. Gretar L. Marinósson & Dr. philos Dóra S. Bjarnason Iceland University of Education, Reykjavík European Education Research Association Conference University of Crete Sept

2 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Contents The context and aims of the project Theoretical framework Research design and main issues Some findings Discussion

3 GLM & DSB Rethymnon The context of the EPID project –Externally funded national project carried out by the Iceland University of Education Research Institute at the request of Natinal Federation for the Aid of People with Intellectual Disabilities. The aims of the EPID project –To find where children with intellectual disability attend school. –To examine the response to their educational needs. –To compare official policy with its implementation. –To explain the findings. Research question –What is the response to the educational needs of pupils with intellectual disability and how can they be explained? Background

4 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Theoretical framework Social constructionism and interpretivism Social disability studies Theories of inclusive education and social policy

5 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Case studies of eight schools informing a questionaire study Case studies Two schools of each kind: –playschool, compulsory mainstream, compulsory special, upper- secondary - Producing hypotheses to be tested by questionnaires Questionnaire study All schools attended by pupils with disability A sample of parents of children with intellectual disability at all school levels and in all areas.

6 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Main issues for study Official policy & school policy The response to the educational needs of pupils with intellectual disability –Schools, staff & pupils; funding; admissions –Curricula, teaching, training and support –Collaboration: Staff collaboration and division of labour; Pupils’ social relations; Collaboration between home and schools; Collaboration with outer agencies –Transition between school levels and from school to work The social construction of the education of pupils with intellectual disability

7 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Some findings I. Staff and students Teachers, developmental therapists and support personnel help pupils with disability learn at all school levels. The support personnel have no formal education for the job, yet they may spend most time with the pupil. The ratio of child to adult is on average 11:1 in the compulsory mainstream schools, 3:1 in special units of the upper-secondary schools, 3:1 in the playschools and 1:2 in the special schools.

8 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Some findings II. Pupils’ social interaction Social interaction by pupils with disability with other pupils is difficult to establish and maintain. Friendship ties between children with disability and non- disabled peers are rare. Staff relate in the same manner to all children and support the social initiative of childen with disabilities. Parents distrust the mainstream schools in protecting their children from bullying and neglect.

9 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Some findings III. Collaboration with parents Schools at all levels consider collaboration with parents vital and rate it as being better than parents do. Where the children’s disability is greatest the collaboration is closest. The school staff takes full responsibility for meeting the pupils’ special educational needs and the parents let them. The parents are seen as clients or receivers of service rather than as equal partners. The parents do not monitor their children’s education very well at any school level. They are too busy with their own work.

10 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Some findings IV. Parental views Parents choose a mainstream or a special compulsory school Parents often need to fight to have their child’s special needs recognised but once they are (through expert diagnosis) the schools respond well. General satisfaction with the school by parents –Child’s progress –Professionalism among staff –Expert service in the school (viz. Speech therapist) –Other services at the school (viz. Longer hours) –The child is happy at the school.

11 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Some findings V. Collaboration with outside agencies Collaboration by schools with local authority offices and expert services is close. Expert services are appreciated but insufficient. The upper-secondary school is most isolated from outside agencies. Special schools have not been able to function as consultants to mainstream schools for of lack of funding.

12 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Some findings VI. Funding Schools and parents complain about the shortage of funding for pupils with disability. This refers primarily to support for learning and socialisation in the mainstream schools. Indeed the discussion on funding often overwhelms other discussions, e.g. on teaching and learning. Specialised staff, high ratio staffing, transport to and from home and school, computerised learning materials and specialised environments heighten costs.

13 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Discussion The main problems affecting learners with intellectual disabilities in schools relate to the core assumptions within the school itself. The reference is “the normal” and any variation from that is a problem that the schools attempt to mend. This applies both to social and learning factors. The school as a “normal” place

14 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Discussion A culture of care and expertice The special education staff often function as social support for the families. Parents and staff rely on experts’ opinion, particularly at younger age levels.

15 GLM & DSB Rethymnon Discussion Barriers to inclusive education –Focus on shortcomings –Unclear comprehension of terms and theories –Separation of the impairment from the child –Parents are not part of the work Support for inclusive education –Children with intellectual disability are welcome to most schools –There is a will to enhance the children’s development –Small groups of children facilitate friendship –There is staff culture of mutual care and support


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