Mainstream teachers' attitudes towards the inclusion of children with special educational needs in the ordinary school.
This thesis is concerned with the presentation of a three year project investigating
mainstream teachers' attitudes towards inclusion in one Local Educational Authority in
the Southwest of England. The study used both quantitative and qualitative techniques.
The first phase of the project involved a survey which indicated that educating students
with significant disabilities in mainstream classrooms results in positive changes in
educators' attitudes. Here, the study confirmed previous research, which reported that
teachers show positive commitment after they have gained mastery of the professional
expertise needed to implement inclusive programmes. Further, the survey highlighted
the ý importance and effectiveness of substantial self-reflective critical professional
development, which results in the acquisition of generic teaching skills necessary for
meeting the needs of all children, as opposed to short term technical responses to
specific needs. The qualitative phase of the project involved in-depth case studies of two
individual schools which considered the whole issue of inclusion from a holistic
perspective. The results of the qualitative phase indicated that there are distinctions to
be drawn between integration (seen as "participation") and inclusion ("participation7'
and "belonging") -this was further highlighted by students' personal accounts of
bullying within the secondary school which described itself as "inclusive". The
qualitative aspects of the study highlighted the conclusion that "inclusive practice" is
seen more in terms of integration than inclusion -students have their specific learning
needsw ell met within the schools,b, ut their personal needs are not well supported.T he
results indicate that in order to achieve inclusion, schools must look to restructuring to
support personal as well as social needs. Such restructuring is dependent on specific
professional development (as indicated in the quantitative study) which supports the
needs of learners within "inclusive" (holistic) frameworks.