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Money no stumbling block for inclusion, say researchers

Staff say they need more training in managing special needs ALTHOUGH most teachers believe children with special educational needs should be in mainstream schools, many of them would like more training in how to cope with the most challenging youngsters, says a new University of Exeter study.

Researchers who surveyed 81 primary and secondary teachers from an education authority in the south-west of England found that half wanted further training.

Many felt that they needed guidance on how to manage pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and more knowledge on how to deal with dyslexia.

Almost 70 per cent also said that they needed well-trained learning support assistants; extra helpers in the classroom were not considered enough.

An effectively-managed SEN department was also essential for secondary teachers, who stressed the importance of the learning support team and the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO). Smaller classes and extra preparation time would benefit inclusion, the teachers said.

Around a third agreed that class sizes should be limited to 20 if some pupils had signifiant disabilities. The same proportion wanted at least an hour a day to plan work for students with severe disabilities and 40 per cent would like better curriculum materials to meet individual needs.

Two-thirds of the teachers said that more ramps and lifts were needed to allow easier access for children with physical disabilities.

But the researchers disagree with the teachers' view that successful inclusion depends mainly on extra resources. They acknowledge that resources are important but insist that simply providing more staff and computers will not be enough.

Education authorities will have to move away from low-level, training to more specialised university-based courses, they say, if teachers are to develop a more positive view of inclusion.

"A Survey into Mainstream Teachers' Attitudes Towards the Inclusion of Children with Special Educational Needs in the Ordinary School in One Education Authority," by Elias

Avramidis, Phil Bayliss and Robert Burden, appears in the current issue of Educational Psychology, Vol.20, No.2 2000.

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