Closing the inclusion gap for students with disabilities in South Australia's Super School reform

Year: 2013

Author: Walker, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

On the 20th of September, 2006, the South Australian state government announced Education Works, its bold plan to reshape public education. A critical feature of this plan was to address the infrastructural issues inherent within ageing buildings, a lack of curriculum choice and declining student enrolments by partnering with private industry to create six new 'Super Schools'. One of the key features of Education Works was identified as greater school interaction. Historically, Special Schools have been segregated as they were derived from out-dated institutional models. Interaction between schools can prevent segregation and reflect a movement towards both inclusive policy and practice. This research will ascertain the degree to which this increased interaction has occurred in 'Super Schools', particularly in relation to students with disabilities and their teachers. The 'Super Schools' are now in operation and as a model of reform they have similarities with both schools-within-schools models and a cluster model proposed by the Australian Special Education Principals' Association (ASEPA). This model was aimed at utilising the expertise within Special Schools whilst moving towards inclusion, its philosophy and practice. Two separate stages of data collection and analysis will be addressed in this presentation. Firstly, an analysis of school policies and documents. Texts (school plans, newsletters, school websites, policies, timetables and programs) will be thematically analysed in order to identify the extent to which inclusive practices are evident and which opportunities or barriers have been encountered so far. Secondly, photographs of the Special Schools and field notes from site visits will be analysed to determine the manner in which pedagogical space affords opportunities or creates and raises barriers. A comparison of data sets and findings will also be presented. This research represents components within a current Educational Doctorate study. It is an individual presentation. Key words: Inclusive Education