Inclusive practices: How accepting are teachers?

Year: 1994

Author: Forlin, Christine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Within the last two decades teaching has become increasingly more complex and according to many reports considerably more stressful. In this climate of change there has been a world-wide emphasis placed on the rights of all children, regardless of disability, to receive an appropriate education. The current position in the human rights discourse is delineated as one of equal access and equal opportunity. In many instances this is interpreted to mean placement of children with a disability in the regular classroom with age-appropriate peers, yet limited regard has been given to the values and beliefs of educators who are expected to accommodate such student placements.

This research addresses the question of educators' beliefs about the rights of children with a disability to be included in regular schools in Western Australia. Educators from all Education Support Centres (ESC's) and attached primary schools rated whether they considered children with either a physical or intellectual disability should be integrated full-time or part-time depending upon the degree of disability (severe, moderate, mild). Educators appear to have strong beliefs regarding inclusive practices, and these beliefs do not necessarily reflect the momentum towards greater inclusion.

Acceptance of integration was lower for the child with an intellectual disability than for a child with a physical disability and decreased with a converse increase in severity of the disability. Educators were more accepting of part-time integration, but mostly only for the child with a mild or moderate disability. Educators from the ESC's were more accepting than were their regular school peers, and as educators became more experienced they became less accepting of inclusion.