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"Everyone knows me .... I sort of like move about”: the friendships and encounters of young people with Special Educational Needs in different school settings

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journal contribution
posted on 15.02.2017 by Louise Holt, Sophie Bowlby, Jennifer Lea
This paper examines the peer-related social experiences and friendships of young people (aged 11-17) diagnosed with Special Educational Needs in four different school settings: mainstream schools, segregated special schools and units within mainstream schools in Southeast England, UK. Findings from qualitative research involving young people with Special Educational Needs and adults, and participant observation, are presented. The young people had one or a combination of the following diagnoses of Special Educational Need: ‘Moderate Learning Difficulties’, on the ‘Autistic Spectrum’, and ‘Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties’. We use the term ‘differences’ rather than ‘difficulties’ to express the interconnected socio-spatial construction of, and corporeality of, the experiences of these differences. There has been limited scholarship about the social experiences of young people with these diagnoses. In our study young people’s experiences of friendships, exclusion, inclusion and bullying were socio-spatially shifting. Young people had varying experiences in the different school settings. In all settings most had friends within the school, although those in special schools and units tended to have more friends within the school. However, bullying and ‘othering’ were also experienced in all three settings based on a variety of perceived ‘differences’. All young people needed opportunities for ‘encounter’ to forge friendships. Encounters are risky and can reproduce and reinforce difference as well as generating social connections and friendships. In many spaces young people’s opportunities for encounter were constrained by the socio-spatial organisation of schools.

Funding

The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding of the UK Economic and Social Research Council, which supported the research (funding ref RES-062-23-1073-A).

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research

Citation

HOLT, L., BOWLBY, S. and LEA, J., 2017. "Everyone knows me .... I sort of like move about”: the friendships and encounters of young people with Special Educational Needs in different school settings. Environment and Planning A, online first, 49 (6), pp. 1361-1378.

Publisher

SAGE Publications © The Author(s)

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Acceptance date

24/01/2017

Publication date

2017

Notes

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

ISSN

0308-518X

eISSN

1472-3409

Language

en

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