Teaching inclusively: Are secondary physical education student teachers sufficiently prepared to teach in inclusive environments?

2017-05-18T08:18:46Z (GMT) by Janine Coates
Background: Contemporary British educational guidelines, such as the National Curriculum (NC) have adopted inclusivity in the way children with special educational needs (SEN) are taught. Therefore, inclusion has risen up the political agenda, resulting in more children with SEN being taught in mainstream environments. Empirical research has attempted to examine PE teacher's perceptions of inclusion. However, it is evident that PE teachers perceive the training they receive during initial teacher training (ITT) as a constraint on their practice with specific regard to teaching children with SEN.Purpose: This study aimed to determine if student secondary PE teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach children with SEN inclusively, by examining their training at ITT as well as their perceived preparedness and confidence to teach inclusively.Participants and setting: 107 students from a four-year BA (Hons) and a PGCE secondary PE ITT course attending a North West England ITT institution participated in the study.Research design: Survey research was implemented to examine if student secondary PE teachers attending two different ITT courses were sufficiently prepared to teach in inclusive environments.Data collection: A 31-item semi-structured questionnaire comprising predominantly of closed questioning, was used for this study. Open-ended questions were included to collect qualitative data, intended to add richness to the data and explore students' perceptions. Questions focused upon respondents' inclusion training at ITT, the perceived effectiveness of this training, students' preferences in teaching, experience of teaching children with SEN, as well as their perceived preparedness and confidence to teach inclusively.Data analysis: Quantitative data was analysed statistically using SPSS. Qualitative responses were analysed using NVivo. Comparisons were made between the two different participant groups, in order to determine whether curriculum differences impacted on perceived preparedness and confidence to teach inclusively.Findings: Findings showed that BA (Hons) student teachers received more formal inclusion training compared with the PGCE students. Yet, student teachers from both courses were being expected to teach children with a range of different SEN within their in-school placements. As such, students from both courses demonstrated a desire to receive more formal hands-on experience of teaching inclusive PE, with particular reference to activity specific SEN training. Finally, it was discovered that while the participants generally felt prepared and confident to teach children with SEN, displaying positive attitudes for inclusion; few attributed this to their training at ITT, deeming their inclusion training at ITT as ineffective.Conclusion: PE ITT providers need to embed aspects of inclusion training throughout their curricula so that inclusion is not perceived as a bolt-on option. This will ensure student and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have the experience and knowledge to teach inclusively. This training should include activity-specific SEN training, and student teachers should be provided with opportunities during their in-school placements to plan for and teach children with a range of different SEN. In doing this, it is expected that NQTs will enter teaching prepared, with the necessary skills to deliver inclusive PE lessons, thereby, confidently meeting the needs of their pupils. © 2012 Copyright Association for Physical Education.