"Blurring The Edges": An in-depth qualitative study of inclusion and the curriculum in a New Zealand secondary school
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The purpose of this study is to investigate meanings of inclusion at different levels of the education system in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum Framework and Special Education 2000 policies. My specific focus is to make connections between policy and practice in relation to the inclusion of students with disabilities in a secondary school setting. Through using an ethnographic qualitative methodology I am able to gain an in-depth understanding of the perspectives of participants at all levels within the state education system, (students, school staff, parents, support agencies and state representatives), particularly those directly involved within the school. Data was collected by way of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Data analysis was ongoing throughout the study, through a method of modified analytic induction. My analysis draws on the theoretical perspectives of interpretivism and radical humanism, both of which are underpinned by a social construction epistemology. This provides the necessary theoretical link for understanding the connections between macro- and microlevel social action in terms of policy intentions and classroom practices. My findings serve to highlight the inconsistencies, contradictions and points of congruence between the New Zealand Curriculum Framework and Special Education 2000, the intentions of the policy makers and classroom implementation. Six themes emerge from the findings. These are Walking The Tightrope: issues of contestability; Privileged Knowledge; Blurring The Edges; Power Struggles; Maintaining Normality; and Excluding The Included. These themes demonstrate that a shift by the state to utilitarianism diverged from principles of inclusion that were simultaneously being promoted in the curriculum documents. The conflicting messages at a state level were being replicated within the school, and thus the status quo was maintained because the only inclusion models the school had available to them were those based on traditional special educational ideologies. The result was a context of continued exclusion, which continued to permeate through to daily classroom practices.