Ideology influencing action: Special educational needs coordinator and learning support assistant role conceptualisations and experiences of special needs education in England

Anthony Maher, P Vickerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

One outcome of England’s Code of Practice (DfE, 1994) was an increase, first, in the number of learning support assistants (LSAs) working in mainstream schools and, second, the establishment of the role of special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with SENCOs and LSAs to explore: (1) why they chose their occupation; (2) how they conceptualise their role; and (3) the decisions they make when endeavouring (or not) to cultivate an inclusive culture in schools. Many SENCOs sought the role in order to increase the educational attainment and life chances of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Inclusive concepts such as fairness, equality and social justice underpinned their rationales. LSA justification was more pragmatic and often related to how the role would help them to achieve a further career ambition, or because it was compatible with personal circumstances. Younger participants thought that they could strengthen their teacher training applications by using the role of LSA to gain more experience working in schools generally, and with pupils with SEND in particular. The role of both SENCO and LSA has been found to be extremely diverse in England, depending largely on the needs and resources of the schools in which these two groups find themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
JournalJournal of Research in Special Educational Needs
Volume18
Issue number1
Early online date30 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Learning support assistants
  • Mainstreaminclusive education
  • Special educationalneeds
  • Special educational needscoordinators.

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