Pupils' views on inclusion: moderate learning difficulties and bullying in mainstream and special schools
This study examined the views of 101 boys and girls aged 10-11 and 13-14 with statements of special educational needs for moderate learning difficulties. Questions centred on their experiences of school, teaching and learning in mainstream and special schools. The study is set in the context of the international move towards more inclusion of children with disabilities into mainstream schools and the greater importance attached to the child's voice in decision-making in education. Most children expressed positive evaluations of their schools and the teaching they received, while a significant minority expressed mixed views. A significant proportion in the mainstream preferred learning support in withdrawal settings. While the majority in both settings preferred their current school, a significant minority in special school preferred to be in a mainstream setting. A notable emergent theme from the study was the high incidence of 'bullying' that was experienced. Though experienced in both settings, those in special schools experienced far more 'bullying' by children from other mainstream schools and from peers and outsiders in their neighbourhood. These findings are discussed in terms of the tensions or dilemmas about difference that were experienced and their implications for the move towards greater inclusion.
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