Support teachers, learning difficulties and secondary school culture


This thesis will report on mixed method research which examined secondary Support Teachers Learning Difficulties (STLDs) and their modes of operation in New South Wales (NSW) government schools, Australia. Four modes of operation were identified in the literature as consultancy, team teaching, in-class support and withdrawal. An additional area of other duties was also included to examine the time when STLDs were not functioning in the four identified modes of operation. NSW government policy is in keeping with the literature as it recommends that STLDs should spend the majority of their time in consultancy and team teaching while in class with a minimum of withdrawal of students from their main classrooms for individual or small group instruction. STLDs, however, did not appear to be functioning in the recommended way. A number of factors identified in the literature, which may influence the modes of operation, can be grouped under the heading of school culture thus this research involved the examination of the effects of school culture on the modes of operation with the aim of expanding our understanding of the functioning of STLDs and providing suggestions for improvement. The theoretical base of social constructionism has informed this research which included survey and case study methods. Case studies of the STLDs in three secondary schools led to the conclusion that, in conjunction with factors such as flexibility and commitment, the involvement of the STLD in a sub-culture of learning support may lead to functioning in the recommended modes of operation

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