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.
- gender performance
- rhetoric of inclusion