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Title: Leadership in inclusive special education : a qualitative exploration of the SENCO role in post-primary schools in Ireland
Author: Fitzgerald, Johanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 5112
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This research considers approaches to leadership and management in inclusive and special education in six mainstream post-primary schools in Ireland. It specifically explores the role of the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO), the teacher with responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of policies relating to the inclusion of learners with SEN from the perspectives of six SENCOs and their Principals. The SENCO role is a recent phenomenon in Irish schools and while much is known of the role internationally, Irish SENCOs tend to operate in a policy vacuum. An interpretivist paradigmatic approach braids together individual and contextualised stories through qualitative research. Data were generated primarily from individual semi-structured interviews with five SENCOs, five Principals, one Principal SENCO and one Support Teacher. Findings reveal that SENCOs and their Principals were profoundly committed and personally invested in supporting students with SEN. While this study set out to explore factors influencing the ways in which schools led and managed inclusive special education, what it found was that the inherent relational nature of the SENCO role both supported and challenged SENCOs in equal measure. Human interaction in all its messiness enveloped the SENCO role in layers of complexity, which, when peeled back, identified at the core the inextricable link between SENCOs’ unwavering duty of care to students and the burden such commitment placed on their professional and personal lives. Furthermore, school context is a fundamental influence on SENCOs’ capacity to lead inclusive special education. Central to cultivating a culture which is inclusive, reflective, collaborative, responsive and flexible were Principals. Findings have implications for theorisation of the SENCO role, leadership in inclusive special education to facilitate collaborative approaches to change, and implementation of sustainable models of professional learning.
Supervisor: Radford, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available