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Recent decades have seen children’s rights and the rights of persons with disabilities come to the fore. Current policy emphasis on inclusive education means that more children with disabilities and special educational needs are being placed in mainstream education instead of special schools, as was traditionally the case. The aim of this study was to explore the area of inclusion in education, from the perspective of primary school teachers and parents of children with intellectual disabilities. A key objective was to determine if the reality of including children with disabilities in mainstream settings corresponded with the policy on inclusion.
A phenomenological approach was taken for the purpose of this study, as the researcher wanted to gain personal insight into the lived experiences of participants. Focus group and individual interviews were carried out by the researcher with a sample of primary school teachers and parents of children with intellectual disabilities currently attending mainstream school. Teachers’ perspectives and experiences provided realistic insight into the process of achieving and implementing inclusive education in regular school settings, while experiences of parents of children with disabilities offered valuable insight into the reality of the education system from the point of view of accessing adequate supports for children.
Findings showed that while inclusive education is beneficial for children with and without disabilities, particularly in terms of social development, oftentimes opportunity for genuine inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities is compromised by challenges and barriers that exist within the education system.
Ferguson, Gail (2014) Including children with disabilities in mainstream education: An exploration of the challenges and considerations for parents and primary school teachers. Masters Dissertation, Dublin Institute of Technology.