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SENCOs: Vanguards or in vain?
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4793-871X
2013 (English)In: Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, ISSN 1471-3802, E-ISSN 1471-3802, Vol. 13, no 3, 198-207 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Sweden today, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) are educated at universities to help resolve educational problems related to children in need of special support at three levels, i.e. the organizational level, the classroom level and the individual level. Before the education of SENCOs was created, in the early 1990´s, special teachers were the occupational group that worked primarily on an individual level. Children’s school problems were then seen as individual deficits. SENCOs can be seen as vanguards in changing an educational system from primarily focusing on an individual perspective to a broader focus on the entire learning environment.  How has the occupational role of SENCOs affected schools? The overall aim of this study is to investigate possible changes within a school system when the introduction of a new occupational group, SENCOs, challenges established structures. More specifically, this paper studies how different occupational groups view where, and in what ways, SENCOs work and should work. Three different questionnaires are the basis of this analysis of SENCOs´ present situation within the Swedish educational system. A number of interesting findings were detected in this study. For example, several occupational groups respond that SENCOs should work with individually taught special education. Meanwhile, a pattern emerges in which SENCOs seem to have partly established a new work role. However, little is known about how these changes affect children in need of special support. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Vol. 13, no 3, 198-207 p.
Keyword [en]
Special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs), inclusive education, municipality, occupational groups, views
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-10266DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-3802.2012.01249.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-10266DiVA: diva2:538602
Available from: 2012-06-30 Created: 2012-06-30 Last updated: 2015-03-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Who Should do What to Whom?: Occupational Groups´Views on Special Needs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Who Should do What to Whom?: Occupational Groups´Views on Special Needs
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to increase our knowledge of different occupational groups´ views on work with children in need of special support. This is explored in four separate studies.

The first study investigates the views of occupational groups in preschools and schools in one municipality. A questionnaire was handed out to all personnel (N=1297) in the municipality in 2008 (72.5 % response rate). The second study explores the views of educational leaders (N=45) in the same municipality. Questionnaire # 2 was distributed in 2009. All the educational leaders responded to the questionnaire. The third study describes the views of different occupational groups concerning special educational needs coordinators´ (SENCOs) role and work. This was highlighted by comparing responses from questionnaire #1 and # 2. Responses concerning SENCOs´ work were also added using a third questionnaire. This questionnaire was handed out in 2006 to chief education officers (N=290) in all municipalities in Sweden. The response rate was 90.3%. Finally, the fourth study presents five head teachers´ descriptions of their work with special needs issues. Study four was a follow-up study of questionnaire # 2. These head teachers were selected because of their inclusive values and because they seemed to be effective according to certain criteria. They were interviewed in January 2012.

The results reveal a number of interesting findings. For example, there are both similar and different views among the occupational groups concerning work with children in need of special support. A majority of the respondents in all groups state that children´s individual deficiencies is one common reason why children need special support in preschools/schools. Differences between the occupational groups become especially visible regarding their views of SENCOs‟ work.

Critical pragmatism (Cherryholmes, 1988) is applied as a theoretical point of departure. Skrtic´s (1991) critical reading and analysis of special education relative to general education is specifically used to interpret and discuss the outcome of the studies. Additionally, Abbott´s (1988) reasoning concerning the “division of expert labor” is used to discuss the occupational groups´ replies concerning “who should do what to whom”.

The findings in the studies are contextualized and theoretically interpreted in the separate articles. However in the first part of this thesis (in Swedish: Kappa), the theoretical interpretations of the empirical outcome are discussed in more detail and the results are further contextualized and synthesised. Inclusion and premises for inclusive education are also discussed in more depth in the first part of the present thesis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: School of Education and Communication Jönköping University, 2013. 248 p.
Series
Dissertation. School of Education and Communication, ISSN 1652-7933 ; 22
Keyword
Occupational groups, children in need of special support, views, special needs, inclusion, SENCOs, educational leaders, preschools and schools
National Category
Social Sciences Educational Sciences
Research subject
Utbildning och lärande
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-13397 (URN)978-91-628-8863-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-13, Föreläsningssal 6, Högskolan Dalarna, Falun, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2015-03-19Bibliographically approved

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