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Title: Inclusion and pupils on the autism spectrum in secondary schools : exploring process, and the contribution of an educational psychologist in moving from rhetoric to reality
Author: Crawford, Janet
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2013
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This research explores some of the factors which might impact on promoting the inclusion of pupils on the autism spectrum in secondary schools. The experience of inclusion for these pupils is often described as problematic, and that the general ‘top down’ information led approaches offered to schools to support their inclusion of this group of pupils seems to be problematic, failing to acknowledge the individuality of their pupils, staff, and the uniqueness of their contexts. This study utilises a practitioner action research framework in order to explore the experiences and theories about inclusion of staff and pupils on the autism spectrum within a secondary school. This research aimed to ‘grow’ inclusion within this context and reflect on the key process elements which supported any changes to occur. The main findings of the study suggested that it is possible to ‘grow’ inclusive practice and that a number of process elements were necessary to this growth. The significant process elements which emerged were; co-constructing practice and experience local to the community, explicit activity with reference to the process of change and development, and professional expertise relating to autism, the process of change and evaluation. Based on the findings of the study a model for future practice is proposed and discussed which combines learning from research in the areas of; autism and inclusion, school effectiveness, solution oriented and motivational psychology, and theory based approaches to evaluation. The model developed suggests that in order to grow inclusive practice, including for those on the autism spectrum, we need to move away from a simplistic standards/competency based approach. Instead what is suggested is that inclusion in practice should: have regard to and be constructed by those within a community, requires a process which has regard to both the goals and motivations of individual members of staff and of the broader organisational and social context, and that this requires professional expertise and facilitation. Discussion as to the implications of the findings of this study in terms of the role of an educational psychologist in this process and the value of practitioner action research in generating evidence on which to base future practice is also undertaken.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available