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Trapped in the needs paradigm

Trapped in the needs paradigm

Title: Trapped in the needs paradigm
Author: Óskarsdóttir, Edda   orcid.org/0000-0003-0989-0583
Guðjónsdóttir, Hafdís
Tidwell, Deborah
Date: 2018
Language: English
Scope: 255-261
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Menntavísindasvið (HÍ)
School of education (UI)
Department: Deild kennslu- og menntunarfræði (HÍ)
Faculty of Education and Pedagogy (UI)
ISBN: 978-0-473-44471-6
Series: Pushing boundaries and crossing borders: Self-study as a means for researching pedagogy
Subject: Grunnskólar; Sérkennsla; Starfendarannsóknir; Self-study
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/1636

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Óskarsdóttir, E., Guðjónsdóttir, H. & Tidwell, D. (2018). Trapped in the needs paradigm. In D. Garbett & A: Ovens (Eds.), Pushing boundaries and crossing borders: Self-study as a means for researching pedagogy, Herstmonceux, UK: S-Step.


This paper is a result of a collaboration across three researchers: the first author is a leader of the support system at the Waterfront school (pseudonym used) whose practice is the focus of this study, and the second and third authors engaged in the role as critical friends. Inclusion is the national policy that has the most effect on my practice as the leader of the support system for inclusive practice in a compulsory school serving all the children (ages 6-16) in the local community (approximately 500 pupils). As the leader of support I supervise special education teachers, classroom assistants, and social educators (educators who focus on social needs of learners). Another aspect of my role is to help classroom teachers with effective practices for learners with special needs, and to coordinate the delivery of special education. Inclusive practice is grounded in the ideologies of social justice, democracy, human rights and full participation of all (Ainscow, 2005; Florian, 2008; Guðjónsdóttir & Karlsdóttir, 2009; Jónsson, 2011). Inclusion is seen as an ongoing process focusing on increased performance, working against inequality, and increasing people’s sense of belonging in school and society (Booth, 2010). My reasons for doing self-study of my practice were that I felt the functionality of inclusive practices in my school was lacking, as could be seen in the “overreliance on paraprofessionals”(Giangreco, Broer, & Suter, 2011, p. 23), in the call for pull-out programs, in the lack of innovative solutions for pupils with emotional/behavioural problems, and in the daily discourse of labelling pupils according to their assessed deficits. However, my main reason for concern was that teachers often regarded pupils with special needs as guests in their classrooms, as these pupils have allocated support and the support system “owns” them. This self-study research, conducted over the past five years, focuses on my leadership role within an inclusion model of education and examines how my practice can help to support inclusion for the pupils, their families, and the teachers who engage with these pupils (Ainscow, Booth, & Dyson, 2004, 2006; Florian, 2014). This self-study was the central focus of this multi-layered research that included feedback and insights from others in order to inform my understanding of my practice within the context of inclusion. The purpose of this self-study was twofold: a) to understand my role in improving leadership and collaboration for inclusion, and b) to develop the support service in Waterfront School so that it reinforces inclusive practice. My self-study research was driven by the following over-arching question and sub-question: • How can I as a coordinator for support services improve the practice of support services in an inclusive school? • What can I do to make the organisation of support more inclusive?


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