Teaching grandmothers to suck eggs? : discourses on gender and inclusion in non-maintained early years settings
This small scale qualitative case study explores the experience of being a special educational needs coordinator (Senco) in a non maintained early years setting * . It is based on interviews with fifteen women pre school workers and on observations made both in their places of work and throughout the course of a training programme they attended with the author. Located within a social constructivist paradigm, grounded theory techniques are employed to explore the Sencos' understanding of their role and their approach to working with children with special needs. The results of the study indicate that the gendered nature of childcare work, combined with limited access to the dominant discourse of the 'Code ofPractice'(DfES, 2001) has led to a different, gendered approach to working with children with special educational needs, which has much in common with inclusive practice. The study concludes that this inclusive practice has evolved over time due to the gendered nature of childcare work and the previous lack of external support. The transition from being classified as care settings to being education settings is identified as a threat to this practice though, due to a wider misunderstanding of the non maintained sector and to the Sencos' lack of confidence in the value of their own practice. Following in the tradition of Hollway (1989) and Taylor (1996) the study is presented as a dynamic piece of work in which the methodology is not constrained to a single chapter, but evolves alongside of the project. As such questions of methodology appear throughout the study and the reader is invited to engage not only with the final product but also in the research process itself.