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Behavioural difficulties cause concern

Britain is not the only country where teachers think children's behaviour is getting worse, researchers say. A recent study looking at inclusion in early-years education in Italy, Denmark, Greece and the UK found the issue was a major concern in all four countries.

But some teachers were very positive in their attitudes to inclusion.

Maria, a teacher working in Crete, told the researchers: "Failure produces failure - that may cause behavioural problems. The children in my class haven't got behaviour problems because they have good communication and excellent relationships with the other children."

Another teacher in Greece said: "Teachers shouldn't talk of special education or special schools, but just of the relationship between teacher and student. When we love children, we can all - specialised or not - find ways to prepare them for participation in open society."

But the researchers identified a common "Yes, but..." factor among teachers in all the countries they studied.

"Inclusion depends on the degree of the condition the children have," one teacher said. "A child who has mobility problems could not pose any insurmountable problems, but a child with severe autism would be too disruptive."

One teacher argued: "Children with complex needs require experienced staff and relevant resources. Some children should not be included because they would create an uncomfortable environment."

Inclusion and exclusion in the early years: Conversations with European Educators, by Cathy Nutbrown and Peter Clough, was published in the European Journal of Special Needs Education, Volume 19 No. 3, October 2004.

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