Nind, M. and Flewitt, R.
Special and inclusive settings: a winning combination in the early years?
In, British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Glamorgan, UK,
14 - 17 Sep 2005.
British Education Index11pp.
The paper reports on a small research project conducted in the South of England and funded by Mencap City Foundation. The study is concerned with the processes through which young children with learning difficulties come to be experiencing a combination of special and mainstream preschool provision. We have (i) explored ways of identifying parents who have "opted" for a combination of special and mainstream services for their child in the early years; (ii) sought to gain a better understanding of how parents conceptualise the choices available to them and their choice making process; and (iii) tried to elicit what parents expect from the combined provision and how they feel about it. In addition to questionnaires and follow-up interviews with parents, we sent similar questionnaires to providers (special schools, nurseries, early excellence centres, Sure Start centres etc) and to voluntary groups (local and national, disability-focused and parent-focused). This enabled us to gain the perspectives of those providing services and support as well as providing routes to accessing parents. We found that behind the New Labour rhetoric of the importance of placing children at the centre of individually created packages of provision, and parents at the centre of decision-making, there were complex stories of mixed messages, local diversity and constrained options
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