The physical management of children with cerebral palsy attending mainstream primary school

Crombie, Sarah (2010) The physical management of children with cerebral palsy attending mainstream primary school. University of Southampton, School of Health Sciences, Doctoral Thesis , 284pp.


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When children with cerebral palsy attend a mainstream school, their physical functioning may impact on day-to-day school activities and on their active participation. The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (DfES 2001b) advocates a multi-agency approach to enable children with SEN to be included within the mainstream school system. Physiotherapists often work with school staff to manage the child’s physical needs within this environment and to deliver therapeutic interventions. Despite numerous government policies endorsing the inclusion of children with SEN within mainstream school, there has been little research into the detail of how this might be achieved for children with physical impairments.

This qualitative study explores the physical management of children with cerebral palsy within mainstream school. In the first phase I conducted focus groups and semi-structured interviews exploring the views and experiences of parents of children with cerebral palsy, physiotherapists and school staff regarding the management of the child’s physiotherapy needs. The second phase utilised a case study approach to generate in-depth contextual knowledge of the issues faced when managing the child’s physical needs by exploring individual cases within three mainstream schools using observation, interviews and documents. Thematic analysis was used to analyse these data.

Three main themes emerged from the findings of the study: how therapy and education services work together; the delicate balance to achieving participation; and how views of difference impact on the child’s management. I found that the way physical impairments were viewed within the current SEN framework, inhibited a holistic view of the child with physical impairments. It impacted on collaborative practice between agencies affecting how the child’s needs were met. I conclude that a more interactional model of viewing disability is required to ensure that the child’s needs are considered within the context of not only school but the child’s life as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: inclusion, physical disability,
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Health Sciences
ePrint ID: 171977
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
June 2010Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2011 16:03
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 19:20

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