Teachers performing gender and belonging: a case study of how SENCOs narrate inclusion identities

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This paper investigates how the narratives Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) tell can be framed as social, discursive practices and performances of identity by analysing accounts offered in focus groups and life history interviews. I explore how the narratives deployed demonstrate an engagement with a rhetoric about who works in inclusive education. I argue that this rhetoric informs the materialisation of what Butler terms an ‘intelligible identity’ (1993, 2004), one which might be identified as a SENCO identity because it is gendered as feminine and caring. However, I explore how some of these narratives simultaneously negotiate and refigure rhetorical constructions of intelligible identities by invoking a child-centred warrior persona to alternatively iterate belonging to the special educational needs community. Thus my analysis considers the potential for personal narratives to decouple gender from a rhetoric of caring and identifies potential alternatives for claiming a SENCO identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-147
Number of pages17
JournalGender and Education
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2015


  • gender performance
  • identity
  • rhetoric of inclusion


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