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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2009): Education - overseas

Assistance to pupils with physical disabilities in regular schools: promoting inclusion or creating dependency?

S.T. Egilson and R. Traustadottir

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 24, 2009, p. 21-36

Drawing on the perspectives of Icelandic pupils with physical disabilities, their parents and teachers, this study explored the adult support provided to pupils with physical disabilities in regular schools. Data were collected through observations at schools and qualitative interviews, with a total of 49 individuals participating. Six themes emerged that characterised the provision of assistance: roles and responsibilities; quantity and content of support; proximity to the pupil; school priorities; independence and autonomy of the child; and the relationship between the teacher and the assistant. Lack of modifications of the traditional curriculum, teacher instructions, and educational activities increased the pupils' need for adult support in school. The findings of the study highlighted the need for the education system to align itself with important stakeholders, namely the pupils, their parents, and external support services, in order to identify alternative ways to promote participation and learning of pupils with disabilities in regular schools.

Budget monitoring and control in South African township schools: democratic governance at risk

R. Maestry and G. Naidoo

Educational Management Administration & Leadership, vol. 37, 2009, p. 107-125

The enactment of the Schools Act 1996 in South Africa revolutionised school financial management in the country, making it part of the drive for democratic school governance. School governing bodies had to be established and became responsible for managing school finances, as schools were allowed to raise funds above departmental allocations which, in township schools, were increased as a way of redressing past imbalances. However, many of the school governors lacked the necessary financial knowledge, skills and competencies to manage large sums of cash and consequently many schools experienced financial difficulty. This study investigated the way in which a group of township schools monitored and controlled their budgets. The findings revealed that the level of education plays a significant role in the way in which budget monitoring and control is perceived. The study concluded that, if budget monitoring and control is applied conscientiously, schools can remain liquid in terms of cash flow and operate within the confines of an approved budget.

Controlled decentralization: minban education reform in China

R.K.H. Chan and Y. Wang

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 25, 2009, p. 27-36

When the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949 it took over all private schools and turned them into state institutions. However, in the 1980s the government retreated from its role as universal provider. A series of reforms led to the gradual deregulation of education services; a shift of financial responsibility from central government to diverse sources; the creation of a competitive education market; and the empowerment of parents and pupils as consumers. Against this background minban schools re-emerged. According to current Chinese law, minban schools are those run by social organisations other than the state or by individuals through non-fiscal educational funds.

Developing inclusive schools: a systemic approach

W. Kinsella and J. Senior

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 12, 2008, p. 651-665

This paper emerges from an ongoing study which involved key interviews with strategic personnel, within the education system in the Republic of Ireland, representing both service providers and service users. The first part of this paper provides a summary of the findings of the study in relation to the key characteristics of an inclusive school. A conceptual model of inclusion is proposed, outlining three interrelated core constructs of inclusion, namely expertise, structures and processes. The second part of the paper reports on another empirical aspect of the study that involved working with a small number of mainstream schools with a view to exploring the challenges and opportunities involved in developing and evaluating more inclusive practices in them. The methodology for this phase of the study used an organisational psychology paradigm, adapting a systemic approach to school development and incorporating the concept of schools as learning organisations.

Handbook of education politics and policy

B.S. Cooper, J.G. Cibulka and L.D. Fusarelli (editors)

London: Routledge, 2008

The chapters of this book have been written by a mix of writers from the areas of school politics, law, finance, and reform to provide a 3-part handbook in this relatively new area of study. Part I examines the macro-level background to the educational system in the United States by focusing on democracy, federalism, political parties, and elections. Part II looks at micro-level political behaviours and cultural influences operating within schools and among interest groups while Part III addresses the major ideological and philosophical positions that frame discussions of educational equity and excellence. A central theme running through the book is how to harness politics to school equity and improvement. Each chapter summarises the latest research, as well as reporting on the methods and techniques adopted. In addition, the authors provide suggestions for improving the political behaviours of key educational groups and individuals.

'I need help on Mondays, it's not my day. The other days I'm OK'. Perspectives of disabled children on inclusive education

E. de Schauwer and others

Children and Society, vol. 23, 2009, p. 99-111

This article presents some results of a research project which sought to identify best practice in inclusive education in Flanders. In this region there are limited opportunities for disabled children to be educated in mainstream schools. Disabled children can attend a mainstream school only if they can reach existing educational standards. This is not possible for children with moderate or severe learning disabilities. This article examines the experiences of 15 disabled children aged 5-17 who go to a mainstream school.

Perception of basic education school teachers towards inclusive education in the Hohoe District of Ghana

M.A. Ocloo and M. Subbey

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 12, 2008, p. 639-650

In Ghana, education has traditionally been organised on a two-tier basis: the first is the special school for children with physical and intellectual disabilities and the second is the regular school system. This system dates back to the early post-independence era and even today very few schools have attempted and broken down this barrier. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perception of basic school teachers towards inclusive education in the Hohoe District of Ghana. The research used a descriptive survey design incorporating both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. A sample of 100 respondents, comprising of 60 male teachers and 40 female teachers, was drawn from a population of 600 for the study. The study found that even though the respondents had been exposed to the policy of inclusive education, they identified factors impeding its implementation, including inadequate facilities available for teachers and a lack of suitable training. As a result, the researchers suggest that the Ghana Education Service must address these issues and provide regular in-service training for teachers as well as equipment and other facilities necessary for the successful implementation of inclusive education in Ghana.

Persistent inequalities? Expansion of education and class inequality in Italy and Spain

G. Ballarino and others

European Sociological Review, vol. 25, 2009, p.123-138

This paper analyses the relation between class of origin and educational attainment in Italy and Spain for five 10-year cohorts born 1920 to 1969 using the cumulative logit model. It investigates whether the educational expansion which occurred in both countries also brought about a lessening in inequality of educational opportunities between social classes. Results show that class-based inequality of educational opportunity diminished in both Italy and Spain. In Italy the agricultural classes benefited most from educational expansion and this process accelerated for cohorts born in the 1950s and 1960s. In Spain, the agricultural working class benefited most, followed by the urban working class and the agricultural petty bourgeoisie.

The role of paraprofessionals in developing inclusive education in Cyprus

P. Angelides, C. Constantinou and J. Leigh

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 24, 2009, p. 21-36

In order to provide equal opportunities for teaching and learning of all children, many educational systems around the world require the involvement of more teachers and this in turn brings a significant additional financial cost. In order to defray some of the cost involved in employing additional teachers, many school systems opt to involve paraprofessionals in the educational process, particularly to support children who experience difficulties in learning. This paper looks at the role of paraprofessionals in the educational environment in Cyprus and how they assist in the provision of more inclusive education. Qualitative research methods were used to collect data from two schools and the findings showed that paraprofessionals made a contradictory contribution to inclusive education as both inclusion and exclusion co-existed as two parallel processes in their practices. In addition, their roles were confused as they appeared to act as both pedagogues and as social monitors. It was concluded, that overall this confused status influenced the paraprofessionals' contribution to the provision of fully effective inclusive education.

Teachers' work intensification and educational contradictions in aboriginal communities

T. Wotherspoon

Canadian Review of Sociology, vol.45, 2008, p. 389-418

This paper explores the changing nature of teaching in relation to initiatives to improve education for Aboriginal people in Canada. It examines the impact of multiple and potentially contradictory streams of educational reform. These include concerns about intensification of teachers' work, the professional reconstitution of teaching to focus on producing skilled workers for a knowledge-based society while at the same time fostering social inclusion, and consequences for Aboriginal learners and communities.

Truancy, disaffection and anti-social behaviour

K. Reid (guest editor)

Educational Review, vol. 60, 2008, p. 333-452

Managing pupils' behaviour and attendance is becoming an increasingly complex and demanding social issue which is commanding attention not only of UK-wide governments but also governments world-wide. The papers in this special issue have been selected to provide a snapshot of existing work in the fields of behaviour, attendance, disaffection and anti-social behaviour. These include work on the state of truancy in Irish secondary schools, a challenge to the 'traditional' approaches to dealing with truanting behaviour, the relationship between truancy and bullying in Philadelphia, the emerging field of restorative practise, in which Scotland is taking a lead, and an analysis of a project on the role of physical activity in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour.

Who's in, who's out of New Zealand public schools? How decisions are shaped

R. Wills and M.A. McLean

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 12, 2008, p. 511-523

This paper takes practices from sheep farming as metaphors to sharpen an analysis of the features and effects of special education policy in New Zealand and the connections are illustrated using the populist commentary found in cartooning. The paper highlights the adoption by the modern state of processes originally designed to individualise support and be inclusive in their outcome but, paradoxically, these have actually fostered separation of sub-groups within social groupings, the commodification of need, and the exposure to the power and discourse of professional elites. The authors argue that efforts to maximise effectiveness and efficiency in the expenditure of resources for maximum gain are the focus of practices of both agriculture and special education. Therefore, understanding disablement as a fundamental human characteristic would see a changed focus on the implications of difference for the way students learn and teachers teach.

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