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Inclusion in the early years: An exploration of the dilemmas of difference, roles and partnerships in the operationalisation of inclusive practices for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability

Morfaki, Alexandra

Inclusion in the early years: An exploration of the dilemmas of difference, roles and partnerships in the operationalisation of inclusive practices for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability Thumbnail


Authors

Alexandra Morfaki



Abstract

This qualitative study explores the inclusion of children with special educational needs, as enacted in the daily decisions early years educators make. The tensions associated with the ‘dilemmas of difference’ (Norwich, 2008, 2009, 2014) pertaining to children’s placements, the stigma associated with their identification and the pedagogical provisions on offer are well documented in research related to compulsory education but have not received the same level of attention in early years. This research project sought to explore these matters but was not constrained by them. Through the adoption of a social constructivist approach, it endeavoured to reflect upon the collective decisions formed and operationalised through ‘communities of practice’ (Wenger, 2000). The collaboration between early years educators, parents and other professionals is considered a prerequisite for the operationalisation of inclusion. Yet, their roles and partnerships in the perpetuation of tensions have not been researched adequately. By encasing the perceptions of educators into their institutional and cultural context this study aims to provide a situated account of inclusion and exclusion in the early years. The research adopted a multiple case study approach and utilised interviews and focus group discussions with Special Educational Needs coordinators and Early Years Educators, who were deployed in a range of settings that reflected upon the diversity observed in early years provision. The combined data corpus was analysed using thematic analysis. The stories and narratives of the participants illustrated critical events that aimed at exposing the moral dilemmas and challenges they experienced while implementing inclusion in partnership with parents and other stakeholders. At the same time, their stories brought to the fore examples of inclusive practices that were governed by an ethics of care and an adherence to child-centred pedagogy. The findings of this research indicate that early years educators resolve dilemmas through a flexible ‘continuum of provision’ approach (Norwich,2008a). Their views simultaneously demonstrate traditionalist attitudes rooted in a medicalised model of (dis)ability and beliefs that are cognisant of the barriers that are erected by entrenched hegemonic discourses (Thomas and Loxley, 2007) and institutionalised practices. While adhering to governmental dictates, they acknowledge the failure of the system to cater for diversity and internalise this failure as their own. Partnerships with parents and other professionals are characterised by conflict and plagued by structural, cultural and interpersonal barriers (Payler and Georgeson, 2013). Despite the challenges faced by early years educators in the enactment of inclusion, they approach matters critically and reflectively and reveal their ‘craft pedagogical knowledge’ (Black-Hawkins and Florian, 2012) which promotes inclusive learning in a capable manner. They also demonstrate the capacity and willingness to expand their professional roles in an effort to assist children, parents and families in navigating their way through a highly complex and bureaucratic process.

Citation

Morfaki, A. Inclusion in the early years: An exploration of the dilemmas of difference, roles and partnerships in the operationalisation of inclusive practices for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/5827963

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 20, 2021
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/5827963

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