The educational experiences of pupils with a Statement for special educational needs in mainstream primary schools: results from a systematic observation study

Rob Webster*, Peter Blatchford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Findings from the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff project showed that day-to-day support for pupils with special education needs (SEN) in mainstream UK schools is often provided by teaching assistants (TAs), instead of teachers. This arrangement is the main explanation for other results from the project, which found TA support had a more profound, negative impact on the academic progress of pupils with SEN than pupils without SEN. There is, however, surprisingly little systematic information on the overall support and interactions experienced by pupils with the highest levels of SEN attending mainstream schools (e.g. those with Statements). The Making a Statement project was designed to provide such a picture in state-funded primary schools in England (e.g. schools attended by children aged between five and 11). Extensive systematic observations were conducted of 48 pupils with Statements and 151 average-attaining 'control' pupils. Data collected over 2011/12 involved researchers shadowing pupils in Year 5 (nine- and 10-year olds) over one week each. The results, reported here, show that the educational experiences of pupils with Statements is strongly characterised by a high degree of separation from the classroom, their teacher and peers. A clear point to emerge was the intimate connection between TAs and the locations, in and away from the classroom, in which pupils with Statements are taught. The currency of Statements - a set number of hours of TA support - is identified as key factor in why provision leads to these arrangements, and appears to get in the way of schools thinking through appropriate pedagogies for pupils with the most pronounced learning difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-479
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Volume28
Issue number4
Early online date1 Aug 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • inclusion
  • pupil experience
  • Statement
  • teaching assistants

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