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Eliciting pupil perspectives in a partnership project between a mainstream and a special school

By Caroline Midwood

Abstract

The research aims to further an understanding of a partnership scheme between a special school and a mainstream primary school by ascertaining the perspectives of all the pupils involved. Giving pupils a 'voice' is currently high on social and educational agendas, with international and national legislation outlining the need to\ud both listen to the views of children and act upon them (UN, 1989/ UNESCO, 1994).\ud \ud Partnership schemes are significant within education, as they can contribute to the development of inclusive practices and are widely regarded as a dynamic for change.\ud Whereas previous evaluations of schemes are predominantly adult-led, the current study provides a different insight, as it focuses on the perspectives of all the pupils\ud taking part. Although the opinions of all participants are sought, the study pays specific attention to pupils with little or no speech and/ or significant leaming\ud difficulties, who are often neglected in research projects.\ud \ud The study involved nine special school pupils, with a range of physical/communication and learning difficulties taking part in a cycle of eight interviews over the course of an academic year. Fifty eight mainstream pupils also contributed to the research, each participating in a cycle of four interviews. Extensive piloting took place in both schools prior to the commencement of the study, to ascertain the most productive methods of eliciting pupils' opinions.\ud \ud Interviews conducted in both schools demonstrate the success of the link arrangement and outline benefits for all the pupils involved. A common theme is that participation in the partnership scheme is fun, with the majority of pupils expressing their pleasure at taking \ud part in activities in both venues and forming\ud relationships with peers from their partnership school.The study indicates that pupils from both settings have the same range of preferences and fears and highlights the\ud need for schools to fully prepare children for participation in partnership work, providing support,both prior to involvement and on an ongoing basis.\ud \ud A key finding of the research is that that fluent speech is not a prerequisite for successful communication. The strategic use of questioning, combined with systems\ud to augment communication (including photographs, symbols and examples of work), facilitated pupils with little or no speech in recalling information about activities,\ud individuals and events. The study highlights that we must not underestimate pupils' abilities and that individuals with communication impairments and/ or significant\ud learning difficulties are able to relate their views and make valuable contributions to research projects

Publisher: School of Education (Leeds)
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:328

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