The Code of Practice of the Department for Education (1994) establishes the role of special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) to help facilitate the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. SENCOs, thus, should form an integral part of the culture of all departments, including physical education (PE). This paper draws on the concept of hegemony to examine the processes and practices that shape the experiences and views of SENCOs and ultimately, the extent to which they facilitate an inclusive culture in PE. Our findings, generated via an online survey, suggested that most SENCOs are not a part of the senior management team (SMT) and do not have control of the SEN budget. The majority of SENCOs acknowledge, and often reinforce, the hegemonic status of English, mathematics and science vis-à-vis the prioritisation of SEN resources, which may constrain the ability of teachers to provide meaningful experiences for pupils with SEN in other subjects, such as PE. While 93% of SENCOs did not have PE-specific training for their role, 52% suggested that the learning support assistants (LSAs) in their school are not adequately trained to include pupils with SEN in PE. This is perhaps surprising, given that it is SENCOs themselves who are largely responsible for the training of LSAs. In conclusion, from the evidence provided by SENCOs, PE does not appear to constitute a significant dimension of their training programmes and SENCOs themselves may further subordinate PE, in the process of training LSAs. This may call into question the ability of both SENCOs and LSAs to contribute to the cultivation of an inclusive culture in PE.
- learning support assistant
- physical education
- special education
- special education needs
- special educational needs coordinators