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Availability of resources for the students with literacy difficulties
While most of the participants didn’t have clear views about this question, the teacher brought to light the necessity to include i-pads and laptop to support SEN students (APPENDIX 3). In the researcher’s notes, there are some points made like, “The only essential support for the students is obviously the teacher. Teaching assistants are consumed in the behaviour management of the class and it is a luxury for a student to receive prolonged support during the lesson”. “Obviously, there is no computer program that is supporting students currently”. “It is the teacher’s responsibility to improvise and provide his own resources for the students” (APPENDIX 1).
Availability of Time and Support
There has been a recognition by one teacher that it is very challenging to completely focus their attention only to dyslexic students during the lesson, due to the lack of time and assistance. “Classroom assistance specifically for dyslexic students is really a luxury that no school could afford”, which could save (APPENDIX 3). Also, in researcher’s notes is stated that, “The assistant’s help in the delivery of the lesson could save me time to support more efficiently the dyslexic students” (APPENDIX 1).
Differentiation, based on the Training and Development Agency for Schools, is “the process by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in a group have the best possible learning” (Barlett, 2016, p.5). Differentiation can be met by using a variety of resources, tasks, groupings, outcomes and support for the students (Barlett, 2016). The evidence from the interviews suggests that a wide range of support is provided for dyslexic students. However, the researcher felt that, “It is very difficult to plan and differentiate the lesson for every single student, and as a trainee, it is for me particularly difficult to find time in explaining the lesson to the teaching assistant(TA), which can lead to questions on whether responses from participants were actually realistic (APPENDIX 1).
Training of the Staff
All the participants commented that they received sufficient training to support the SEN students in the school. The SENDCO argued that school’s staff are receiving continuous training to ensure that they know how to support the later, in all circumstances. Specifically, the staff know “how to be looking specifically at key words, “how to teach key words to students, how to check their knowledge, how to ask the students to create paragraphs, how to tap into the reading and support reading”. Also, they are trained to be “looking very carefully” and do “marking for spelling” (APPENDIX 6).
Co-Curricular Activities in School
SENDCO made clear there are multiple activities that are designed to help dyslexic students including, enrichment activities, extra-curriculum activities, activities that include homework clubs, that can aid students who are not able to do independently their homework. She argued that, SEN students are always welcome to attend these weekly activities and be benefited (APPENDIX 6). However, there was a point raised by one Teaching Assistant stating that additional support can be provided. She argued that it would be wise for the school to make a greater effort in making “Disabled and non-disabled learners learning together” as this will help create new opportunities to build relationships” (APPENDIX 5).
Individual Learning Plan (IEP)
To produce an effective IEP for students, it is crucial for parents, students and school staff should actively collaborate to investigate in depth the needs of the students and plan a strategy that will support the students effectively (NCSE, 2010). However, one of the major concerns from parents is that during the meeting with professionals their views are not usually highly regarded by the later (Pinkus, 2005). Except the fact that parents are being communicated about the inclusion practices of the school, in SENDCO’s interview, evidence suggest that parents are not actively participating in the decision-making and assessment process. Therefore, including parents more in the decision-making process, would be of key importance.
The profiles of the 2 selected students for observation
The selection of the two students was mainly based on the fact the they were being taught by the researcher of this study. The researcher came in contact and consulted the class teachers and teaching assistants that were supporting him during his placement to discuss and ask permission for discussions that would specifically focus of these two SEN students. The 2 students had similar special educational needs and their names have been changed to ensure anonymity. Oliver is a boy in year eight who has difficulties with spoken language and retaining information (memory). Kelly is a girl in year eight, who has a mild learning disability, presenting many of the symptoms associated with Dyslexia. More information can be found in Appendix 7.
The study was conducted during a 3-month period, from October to December 2016. As it has been mentioned in section 3.2 there has been a limitation of time, resulting in the reduction of the sample tank. Moreover, time restrictions led the researcher to the selection of only two students with similar needs.
In addition, Jupp characterises the sampling technique of “Opportunity Sampling”, as the weakest sampling method. It is argued that the selection of the participants is considered as biased and is not accurately representing the actual, real world results (Jupp, 2006). Considering Reflexivity as stated in section 3, the researcher’s stay in his placement school along with his personal attributes, gave him the opportunity to select and interview only those four participants. Consequently, researcher’s subjectivity is acknowledged in the collection and interpretation of the data, as well as the discussion of the results.
In general, findings are linking closely to the existing literature. The interviews are showing that staff is confident towards the inclusion policy of the school for the dyslexic students. However, the school can become more inclusive. Most the interviewees expressed the necessity for further assistance inside the classrooms and for further provision of resources. In addition, the researcher identified that there are severe time limitations for the teachers regarding lesson planning and differentiation. Therefore, there should be provided sufficient funding from the local authorities and government. Also, stronger links between teachers, teaching assistants, supporting staff and parents should be established. Last but not least, critical role to this venture should play the school’s proactive leadership.
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