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Understanding parents' perspectives on inclusive education and partnership practice: a Life History approach

Grey-Elsharif, Janet (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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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.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Grosvenor, Ian
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education
Subjects:LC Special aspects of education
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1472
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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