A case study of parent, teacher and student attitudes towards disability and peer social interactions in a Year 2 primary school classroom.
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Inclusion is a philosophical approach to education which proposes that all students have the right to attend their local school. There is currently little research on parent, teacher and student views towards the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular New Zealand primary schools. Through the use of semi-structured interviews, parental perspectives of the experiences of students with Down syndrome in regular New Zealand schools were obtained. The perspective of a classroom teacher on the inclusion of children with Down syndrome in a regular classroom was also gathered. The peer interactions of a small group of typically developing students in a regular classroom were examined, along with their attitudes towards peers with disabilities and their social skills. Findings indicated that typically developing students interacted primarily with their peers about academic tasks. All of the students displayed neutral or positive attitudes towards peers with disabilities and a positive correlation was found between their attitudes and social skills. The parents and teacher reported experiencing both inclusive and non-inclusive practices at regular schools, and suggested that teacher attitudes towards inclusion could be improved to increase inclusive practices. The parents and teacher reported that specific training in inclusive practices should be provided. It was concluded from these findings that there is a shortfall between policy and the practices of teachers in regular classrooms. It is proposed that this shortfall may be rectified through increased support and education in inclusionary practices for teachers.