From Them to Us: An International Study of Inclusion in Education

By Tony Booth; Mel Ainscow | Go to book overview

5

SCOTLAND RESPONSE: PROFESSIONALS AT THE CENTRE?

In her chapter Julie Allan explores the 'academic and social experiences' of two students categorised as having 'special educational needs' in the context of 'local decision-making processes and the changing Scottish policy scene'. Julie focuses much of her attention on social processes, revealing through her study of the experiences of two students the complex and at times contradictory ways in which their participation in school life is mediated through their relationships with other students.

Social acceptance is at the top of the agenda for one of the students, Fiona, who spends most of her time in the mainstream, although each day she is withdrawn to work with a specialist teacher. She values highly her relationships with and acceptance among her peers. In order to minimise her difference from them she is prepared to pretend that she understands what they are saying, even when she cannot. For Graham, on the other hand, social interaction seems less important. His main concern, we are told, is to participate in the mainstream curriculum, taking the same examinations as his peers. Yet he spends only fifty per cent of his time in regular classes, the rest being in the unit in groups of eight to ten students where he is said to do 'life skills'.


How does the national context explain and constrain practice?

The account provides us with little background about general educational policies in Scotland. They have been influenced by the principles of introducing market values into education, described in the English chapter, although, meeting with a more resistant culture, these have been slower to take root (Brown 1994). Scottish teachers have retained greater autonomy over the curriculum than their English counterparts and 'opting out' of local authority control has met with little enthusiasm. There is a school board consisting of teachers, parents and the headteacher, but unlike England where in theory and in law the governing body is the main management structure of the school, in Scotland it has no control over the school budget or responsibilities

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