The academic and social experiences of disabled pupils : a case study
This small scale, qualitative study explores the reality of the academic and social experiences of pupils with physical impairments. It focuses on one secondary school in the North West of England that has admitted disabled pupils for over twenty years. Whilst acknowledging that integration does take place, it analyses the extent to which this can be equated with inclusion. Semi-structured interviews with both disabled pupils and learning support assistants reveal that the school has experienced some success, but the degree to which the establishment encourages full participation as well as celebrating difference is seen to be affected by a variety of factors. The role of the learning support assistant together with accessibility to the physical environment, prove key features in the inclusion process. In addition, lack of proximity, restricted sporting and extra-curricular opportunity, together with the absence of a facility to discuss disability issues, prove to be discriminatory factors. An historical framework sets the institutional issues against a backdrop of successive governmental policies. Whilst the latter have published a commitment to integration - integration as opposed to inclusion -a series of qualifying clauses have led to inaction and indecision, resulting in restricted involvement for disabled pupils. Conclusions reached stress the need for future development. The importance of this school and indeed all educational establishments, working towards inclusive practice, is seen as paramount.