Listen to the voices behind the research

24th October 2003 at 01:00
This year's TESNational Association for Special Educational Needs book awards have attracted record entries. Geraldine Brennan reports

For the book that does most to inspire and inform educators Award winner

Girls and Exclusion: rethinking the agenda. By Audrey Osler and Kerry Vincent. RoutledgeFalmer

"A consistently excellent book on a serious issue with much to say to professionals, politicians and the public," is the verdict on this analysis of how girls have been ill-served in education by a long-term focus on boys' underachievement. Drawing on five years' research into school exclusion and a Joseph Rowntree Foundation study on girls and exclusion, it places at the centre girls who have become alienated from school.

"The voices of the girls are allowed to come out and give it life. It's well written and entertaining, but all the research is there and the message comes through." Not only "un-put-downable, even on holiday" but "pick-up-able and attractive with an appealing cover".

Girls and Exclusion was TES Friday magazine's Book of the Week on June 27, when headteacher Irene Dalton summed it up: "While girls are less likely to be formally excluded, they have ways of excluding themselves from educational opportunity. Their coping strategies mean they have fewer direct confrontations with teachers; and their bullying is subtler, less noticeable, but just as devastating in its consequences, striking at the heart of what is most important to girls - friendships and status.

Professionals dealing with 'bad girls' are less tolerant of their 'extreme' behaviour than that of 'bad boys'; the stereotype of what is expected of boys, however unacceptable, dominates the thinking. Boys' more confrontational behaviour attracts more attention from senior staff, more placements in pupil referral units."

In conclusion, the authors urge schools to look at how their pastoral care addresses girls' alienation. They want alternative education providers (FE colleges that accept under-16s and pupil referral units) to monitor the gender balance in the take-up of their services and ensure they are meeting girls' needs. And they want the debate about girls' and boys' relative achievement to recognise that other factors such as race and social class may be more significant.


The Micropolitics of Inclusive Education: an ethnography. By Shereen Benjamin. Inclusive Education series, Open University Press.

"The portraits of young women and the voice of the author comes through.

The content on the experiences of mixed race children is very good. I would love lots of teachers to read this; it's worth the struggle with the sociological language."

Coordinating Services for Included Children: joined-up action. By Caroline Roaf. Inclusive Education series, Open University Press

"Very timely with important implications for those thinking about shaping services in a coordinated way." "I would like to lock all the managers of health, education and social services in a room with it." "Very sound, reflecting in-depth knowledge, well structured and readable."

Strategies to Promote Inclusive Practice. Edited by Christina Tilstone and Richard Rose. RoutledgeFalmer

"A useful collection, well edited" and "a good follow-up" to Inclusive Practice, the 1999 Academic Award winner.

My right to play: a child with complex needs. By Robert OrrDebating Play Series, Open University

Written from the perspective of a child who has no sight or speech and uses a wheelchair. "Thought-provoking, insightful and innovative. Provides a message that is not provided often enough. Very easy to read and tackles issues of sensitivity - such as staff talking over a child's head - in a fresh and radically different way."

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