Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Secondary Pupils' Perceptions and Experiences towards Studying in an Inclusive Classroom

Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Secondary Pupils' Perceptions and Experiences towards Studying in an Inclusive Classroom

Article excerpt

Introduction

Inclusive education practice has taken many forms in different countries following the first World Conference on Education for All in Jomtein in 1990 (UNESCO, 1990), the adoption of the Salamanca Statement in 1994 (UNESCO, 1994) and the opening of the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000. Its main spirit of including pupils with special needs into regular schools is now widely practised around the world. For instance, policies that emphasize the need to educate pupils with special educational needs in regular schools have been enforced by the Hong Kong government under the adoption of the Whole School Approach (WSA) to integrated education since 2001 (Forlin & Sin, 2010). Early in 1997, the education department in Hong Kong invited schools to participate in a pilot WSA project on integrated education.

Following the enactment of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) Code of Practice on Education in 2001 (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2001), all Hong Kong schools are required to adopt the features of a WSA to integrated education to support students with special needs by practising the following seven principles, namely, (1) full participation of all school members, students and parents, (2) curriculum accommodations, (3) differentiated teaching, (4) peer support, (5) cooperative learning, (6) assessment accommodation and (7) flexibly making use of all the available resources within the schools to accommodate students' diverse learning needs (Education Bureau, 2010).

In response to the enactment of the governmental New Funding Model in 2003 where additional government funding was made available to support Whole School Approach schools, there was a sudden surge of WSA schools in Hong Kong. The number of students with Special Education Needs (SEN) attending Whole School Approach schools had also surged to more than 4,000 by 2005 (Table 1). By 2009, 312 primary schools had joined the New Funding Model to implement inclusion using WSA (Forlin & Rose, 2010).

In Hong Kong, research studies related to Whole School Approach school practice have primarily focused on surveying teachers' and parents' attitudes (Tsui, Sin, & Yu, 2007; Forlin & Lian, 2008; Forlin & Sin, 2010). In a survey conducted in 2006 by the Hong Kong Special Education Society and the Hong Kong Primary Education Research Association, it was found that the primary concern of parents was the adverse impact of the inclusion of pupils with SEN on learning and teaching in classrooms (Special Education Society of Hong Kong, 2006). Despite the fact that the majority of parents did not reject the philosophy of inclusive education, however, only a minority agreed that schools had sufficient teaching resources to implement the WSA. That is, parents are concerned about the adverse effects on the quality of teaching and learning, and on their children's academic performance with the adoption of the Whole School Approach approach in schools. According to a recent study on "equal learning opportunities for students with disabilities under the integrated education system" (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2012), parents of pupils with Special Education Needs are concerned about insufficient teaching resources and lack of curriculum and assessment modification to accommodate their learning needs. Parents of pupils without SEN are concerned that the assessment and teaching accommodation for pupils with SEN will cause unfair treatment of their children without Special Education Needs in the same classroom.

On the other hand, the governmental guideline on the use of the funding support only generally outlines the need for schools themselves to determine how to consolidate and redeploy existing resources. Many school administrators demonstrate their agreement with the parents' perspective as they have used most of the additional funds for remedial teaching, providing integrated education programmes and deploying additional teacher support staff (Forlin & Rose, 2010). …

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