Being a primary school special educational needs co-ordinator: perceptions and experiences

SHARPE, Sheila Margaret (2020). Being a primary school special educational needs co-ordinator: perceptions and experiences. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This study explores participants’ interpretations of their experiences and perceptions of what it means to be a SENCo as they engage with the demands of their role within an ever-changing educational climate. It highlights the continued complexities of the execution of the role, the implication of austerity cuts and the challenges encountered through the implementation of government policy. The enquiry is a small-scale qualitative study, conducted within an interpretivist paradigm using a narrative approach for data collection with a thematic approach to the analysis. It draws on the experiences and perceptions of six primary Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos) who completed the Post Graduate Certificate in Special Educational Needs Coordination, at a Northern University. The narrative approach enabled the SENCos to share their experiences and the use of drawings gave some immediate insight into their perceptions of the role. The study highlights the perceived impact on the SENCo role of a myriad of constituent elements and makes use of the metaphor of plate spinner to illustrate the complexity of the role. Data reveals tensions in managing government policy in relation to inclusion, special educational needs and performance with additional tensions arising from providing services that government policy has severely cut. Findings reveal that SENCos see a need to take a strategic lead on inclusion and to upskill staff to enable a greater share of the responsibility for the teaching of children with the label of ‘needs’. The study indicates that SENCos are keenly aware of their role to empower parents, staff and children, but within limits. The data reveals that the SENCo role has taken on a new dimension of supporting children and families through a social work mode. My contribution to new knowledge is in presenting new insights informing the role of the SENCo by providing a wider understanding of the continued challenges and frustrations of the role. The findings have a wider application for the contribution of knowledge towards a greater understanding of the concept of empowerment and identity. New knowledge in relation to the SENCos’ perception of empowerment and the emergence of a social role due to the blurring of boundaries between education and social work will lead to a greater understanding of the role. In particular, to those who appoint SENCos, those who inhabit the role, those with whom SENCos work, those who train SENCos and will in turn impact on the teaching and learning of children with the label of needs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Coldwell, Mike
Additional Information: Director of studies: Mike Coldwell
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
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Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2020 15:37
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 14:56

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