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The participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences: A case study of one school

The participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences: A case study of one school
The participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences: A case study of one school
Research has highlighted the importance of increasing the participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences. This is a timely and relevant topic to explore due to national policy changes that prioritise the full participation of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in decisions that affect their lives. Reviews in the literature examined how published research defined participation and studied how pupils with SEND participated in their local community. However, these reviews did not consider decision-making or specifically focus on the experiences of autistic individuals. A systematic review was conducted to address this gap in the literature. Findings highlighted a focus on formal processes such as meetings for transition planning and individual education plans, rather than day-to-day decisions at school, with the majority of studies using quantitative research methods.

A case study of one school was conducted to provide rich, detailed context-dependent knowledge of school-related decision-making that is lacking in the literature. Sixteen participants took part in the research: four autistic pupils, two carers and ten members of staff. Data collected were photographs pupils took of places where they felt listened to, lesson observations and semi-structured interviews with pupils, carers and staff. The Black-Hawkins (2010, 2014) and Florian et. al (2016) Framework for Participation provided the lens with which data was analysed. The results captured four dominant themes in the data: access to the school and the classroom, access to the curriculum, a focus on what learners can do, rather than what they cannot, and relationships of mutual recognition and acceptance between pupils and staff.

Findings highlighted that the culture of the school appeared to create opportunities for pupils to decide when and how they learn, manifested both in the flexibility of school systems and in the interactions between staff and pupils. A partnership approach to decision-making was a particular feature of interactions, involving negotiation and reciprocal feedback between staff and pupils. However, for some pupils having to take decisions created anxiety, which suggests that decision-making is a skill that may need to be learnt and supported. Carer perspectives did not feature prominently in the findings, which may indicate that day-to-day school practices are less visible to carers.
University of Southampton
Zilli, Chantelle
9b0c8536-765c-4f11-ace4-493a0ce30f2a
Zilli, Chantelle
9b0c8536-765c-4f11-ace4-493a0ce30f2a
Kovshoff, Hanna
82c321ee-d151-40c5-8dde-281af59f2142
Parsons, Sarah
5af3382f-cda3-489c-a336-9604f3c04d7d

Zilli, Chantelle (2018) The participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences: A case study of one school. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 157pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Research has highlighted the importance of increasing the participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences. This is a timely and relevant topic to explore due to national policy changes that prioritise the full participation of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in decisions that affect their lives. Reviews in the literature examined how published research defined participation and studied how pupils with SEND participated in their local community. However, these reviews did not consider decision-making or specifically focus on the experiences of autistic individuals. A systematic review was conducted to address this gap in the literature. Findings highlighted a focus on formal processes such as meetings for transition planning and individual education plans, rather than day-to-day decisions at school, with the majority of studies using quantitative research methods.

A case study of one school was conducted to provide rich, detailed context-dependent knowledge of school-related decision-making that is lacking in the literature. Sixteen participants took part in the research: four autistic pupils, two carers and ten members of staff. Data collected were photographs pupils took of places where they felt listened to, lesson observations and semi-structured interviews with pupils, carers and staff. The Black-Hawkins (2010, 2014) and Florian et. al (2016) Framework for Participation provided the lens with which data was analysed. The results captured four dominant themes in the data: access to the school and the classroom, access to the curriculum, a focus on what learners can do, rather than what they cannot, and relationships of mutual recognition and acceptance between pupils and staff.

Findings highlighted that the culture of the school appeared to create opportunities for pupils to decide when and how they learn, manifested both in the flexibility of school systems and in the interactions between staff and pupils. A partnership approach to decision-making was a particular feature of interactions, involving negotiation and reciprocal feedback between staff and pupils. However, for some pupils having to take decisions created anxiety, which suggests that decision-making is a skill that may need to be learnt and supported. Carer perspectives did not feature prominently in the findings, which may indicate that day-to-day school practices are less visible to carers.

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Chantelle Zilli Final thesis ecopy - Version of Record
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Published date: June 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 429615
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/429615
PURE UUID: 024569e8-6297-4ca4-b73d-65c2d47895df
ORCID for Hanna Kovshoff: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6041-0376
ORCID for Sarah Parsons: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2542-4745

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Apr 2019 16:31
Last modified: 30 Jan 2020 05:10

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Contributors

Author: Chantelle Zilli
Thesis advisor: Hanna Kovshoff ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Sarah Parsons ORCID iD

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