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Title: What is life like for a mainstream primary school child who has been identified as having learning difficulties?
Author: Lay, Julia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 3507
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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Few studies have focused on the perspectives of children with 'learning difficulty' labels in the UK. This exploratory study aimed to investigate the experience of children in a mainstream primary school in London who had been identified as having 'learning difficulties'. Six children were observed in their school environment, interviewed using props and pictures, and invited to take photos of significant features of their daily lives. Data were transcribed and analysed thematically from a critical realist standpoint. The children in the study were mostly not remarkable from other children, either in their appearance or behaviour, or in their experiences and views. They had a variety of understandings and feelings about the additional support they received, but largely seemed fairly neutral about it and did not seem to feel particularly different from their peers. In contrast with much of the literature, stories of stigma and bullying were not found. This seemed to reflect an inclusive school culture. Some of the children were however noticeably socially isolated from their peers. Teaching assistants played a key role in several children's lives, and this was largely positive, although their role sometimes constrained opportunities for peer interactions and autonomy. Although the sample was not representative of children with 'learning difficulties', the findings point to the possibility that schools can create an environment whereby children with different learning abilities or styles do not experience 'impairment' (difficulties with learning) or 'disability' (barriers to opportunities). This may only apply to children with milder differences from supportive families, but is consistent with theory that both impairment and disability are socially constructed. Further research is needed into how schools can create such an environment, as well as into barriers to friendships for children with 'learning difficulty' labels.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available