The differences in the social competence of children who attend integrated junior infant classes and children who attend segregated learning environments
Butler, Judith E.
University College Cork
There are a number of reasons why this researcher has decided to undertake this study into the differences in the social competence of children who attend integrated Junior Infant classes and children who attend segregated learning environments. Theses reasons are both personal and professional. My personal reasons stem from having grown up in a family which included both an aunt who presented with Down Syndrome and an uncle who presented with hearing impairment. Both of these relatives' experiences in our education system are interesting. My aunt was considered ineducable while her brother - my uncle - was sent to Dublin (from Cork) at six years of age to be educated by a religious order. My professional reasons, on the other hand, stemmed from my teaching experience. Having taught in both special and integrated classrooms it became evident to me that there was somewhat 'suspicion' attached to integration. Parents of children without disabilities questioned whether this process would have a negative impact on their children's education. While parents of children with disabilities debated whether integrated settings met the specific needs of their children. On the other hand, I always questioned whether integration and inclusiveness meant the same thing. My research has enabled me to find many answers. Increasingly, children with special educational needs (SEN) are attending a variety of integrated and inclusive childcare and education settings. This contemporary practice of educating children who present with disabilities in mainstream classrooms has stimulated vast interest on the impact of such practices on children with identified disabilities. Indeed, children who present with disabilities "fare far better in mainstream education than in special schools" (Buckley, cited in Siggins, 2001,p.25). However, educators and practitioners in the field of early years education and care are concerned with meeting the needs of all children in their learning environments, while also upholding high academic standards (Putman, 1993). Fundamentally, therefore, integrated education must also produce questions about the impact of this practice on children without identified special educational needs. While these questions can be addressed from the various areas of child development (i.e. cognitive, physical, linguistic, emotional, moral, spiritual and creative), this research focused on the social domain. It investigates the development of social competence in junior infant class children without identified disabilities as they experience different educational settings.
Integration , Inclusiveness , Special schools , Mainstream education
Butler, J. E. 2003. The differences in the social competence of children who attend integrated junior infant classes and children who attend segregated learning environments. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.