Grey-Elsharif, Janet (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Restricted to Repository staff only until February 2075.
It is a truism that children make greater educational progress when their parents are included in their educational journey from childhood to adulthood. A key focus of this thesis is the particular role accorded to parent-school partnership as a means of engaging parents in the decision-making process concerning their children’s schooling. The study was particularly interested in pupils deemed to have special needs and school-related difficulties. The issues addressed related to parents’ understanding of disability and SEN issues; disabling barriers experienced when parents sought to get involved in the schooling of their children, particularly barriers which determined their level of participation in parent school partnerships; and the development of inclusive education based on good practice. The methodology for conducting the research consisted of the life history method and focus groups: specifically, twelve individual case histories and three focus groups. Life history interviews and focus group sessions were conducted over a one-year period with twenty-four parents living in one urban locality of the United Kingdom. A particular emphasis was placed on the experiences of Black parents including parents who are themselves disabled and have children with special educational needs. The findings revealed that parents experienced many personal, social and instructional barriers with the education system. These barriers shaped their sense of identity and circumscribed their level of participation in parentschool partnerships. In particular, parents felt undervalued. Though parents thought that the longevity of these barriers would require a concerted effort before change could be effected, they were willing to propose a number of suggestions that could be incorporated into good practice in order to develop an inclusive education system. Overall, there was a call for initiatives to provide a range of specialist support, practitioners and training to parents in order to address home and school-related issues, particularly those relating to managing special needs and school exclusion. The results of the research offer insights into what it is to be a parent whose voice is not always heard when their child comes into contact with the state education system.
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