Including Visually Impaired Students in Physical Education Lessons a Case Study of Teacher and Pupil Experiences

Including visually impaired students in physical education lessons a case study of teacher and pupil experiences
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Transcript  British Journal of Visual Impairment online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/0264619608097744 2009 27: 75 British Journal of Visual Impairment  Frank Herold and Jack Dandolo teacher and pupil experiencesIncluding visually impaired students in physical education lessons: a case study of  Published by:  can be found at: British Journal of Visual Impairment  Additional services and information for Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations:  What is This? - Dec 11, 2008Version of Record >>  at University of Macedonia on March 22, 2014 jvi.sagepub.comDownloaded from at University of Macedonia on March 22, 2014 jvi.sagepub.comDownloaded from   Including visually impaired studentsin physical education lessons:a case study of teacher andpupil experiences FRANK HEROLD AND JACK DANDOLO University of Birmingham, UK  ABSTRACT Following recent education policy and curriculumchanges in England, the notion of inclusion of children with spe-cial educational needs in physical education has increasinglybecome a topic of research interest and concern. It was the aimof this study to explore personal experiences and perspectives of inclusion in physical education. To this end this study used aseries of interviews and observations with a visually impaired(blind) pupil, a physical education teacher and a learning sup-port assistant at a school for children with moderate learning dif-ficulties. The findings highlighted four significant areas of impact: the role of teacher training and development; the role of learning support assistants; resources; and the limitations of theNational Curriculum in Physical Education as a framework forinclusion. Recommendations on how to address these issues inorder to improve the standards of inclusion for visually impairedpupils in physical education are made. KEY WORDS  Every Child Matters, inclusion, national curriculum, physical education, teacher training, visual impairment  INTRODUCTION The publication of the Green Paper ‘Every Child Matters’ marked thebeginning of a significant new Government agenda aimed at improvingthe well-being of children and young people in the United Kingdom(DfES, 2003).The Government’s expressed aim is for every child, what-ever their background or their circumstances, to have the support theyneed to achieve the ‘Every Child Matters’ core outcomes: be healthy; 75  THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF VISUALIMPAIRMENT  Copyright © 2009 SAGE Publications(Los Angeles, London, New Delhi,Singapore and Washington DC)Vol 27(1): 75–84DOI:10.1177/0264619608097744RESEARCH REPORT BJVI  at University of Macedonia on March 22, 2014 jvi.sagepub.comDownloaded from   stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution; and achieveeconomic well-being. Its core outcomes were the guiding principles of the latest curriculum revision of the National Curriculum in PhysicalEducation (DfES, 2007). As a result, schools are requested to facilitatean increased personalization of learning for every pupil, taking intoaccount their personal and educational needs.However, research in physical education would suggest that there is adiscrepancy between inclusive curriculum aspirations and school-dayreality (Fitzgerald, 2005; Hodge et al., 2004; Morley et al., 2005).Whilst expressed curriculum intentions for physical education areinclusive, pupils with specific learning needs and disabilities continueto encounter numerous barriers to equitable participation and learning(Block and Obrusnikova, 2007; Fitzgerald, 2006; Smith and Thomas,2006). A similar picture emerges in recent research related to visuallyimpaired pupils in physical education (Grenier, 2006; Lieberman andHouston-Wilson, 2002; O’Connell et al., 2006; Stuart et al., 2006).Given the apparent discrepancy between curriculum aspirations andpractice, this research project set out to consider the contentious issueof ‘inclusion’ in physical education by exploring the personal storiesand experiences of a visually impaired (totally blind) pupil, his physicaleducation teacher and his learning support assistant. BARRIERSTO INCLUSION IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION The prevalent research view of inclusion in physical education suggeststhat pupils with disabilities and/or special educational needs are disad-vantaged in physical education and sport (Block and Obrusnikova, 2007;Fitzgerald et al., 2003, 2004; Hodge et al., 2004; Morley et al., 2005;Smith andThomas, 2006). Whilst positive attitudes towards inclusion areprevalent, research consistently points out that many physical educationteachers feel ill prepared to teach pupils with special educational needsand/or disabilities, highlighting deficiencies in initial teacher educationand continuous professional development as a concern (Fitzgerald et al.,2004, 2005; Hodge et al., 2004; Morley et al., 2005).Fitzgerald et al. (2004) and Golder et al. (2005) point out that the gen-eral area of special educational needs and inclusion is often overlookedin initial teacher training and development, with other issues such asgender, social situations or ethnicity given preference. Hodge et al.(2004) also identified lack of training and knowledge to be a significantfactor in physical educators’ struggles to achieve inclusion in their teaching. THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT 27(1) 76  at University of Macedonia on March 22, 2014 jvi.sagepub.comDownloaded from   They concluded that, despite mostly positive attitudes towards inclusion,teachers frequently failed to modify and adapt their instruction to fullymeet the needs, interests and abilities of students with disabilities.A comprehensive study by Morley et al. (2005), conducting in-depthinterviews with physical education teachers in schools throughout thenorth-east of England, supports these findings, identifying a range of short-comings in initial teacher education and continuous professionaldevelopment. They conclude that, in order to successfully promoteinclusion of pupils with special educational needs in physical educa-tion, teachers require a deeper knowledge and understanding of inclu-sion issues and strategies. UNHEARDVOICES: PUPILS AND LEARNINGSUPPORT ASSISTANTS Historically, the majority of the research into special educational needsand disability in physical education has centred on teachers’ views andbeliefs. Fitzgerald (2005) and Smith and Thomas (2006) highlight thelack of research into the experiences of pupils themselves, insisting thatmore research needs to take into account pupils’ views. In addition tothis, several studies identify the importance of the role of learning sup-port assistants in physical education lessons (Hodge et al., 2004;Morley et al., 2005; Smith and Green, 2004; Smith andThomas, 2006).Commonly, teachers emphasize that, without learning support assis-tants, teaching classes that include pupils with a range of special edu-cational needs is very challenging, due to the time and attention thesepupils require (Morley et al., 2005).Taking into account the relative paucity of studies that include the viewsof disabled pupils and those of learning support assistants, this researchproject was designed to allow for the voices of all parties to be heard.The individual experiences and perspectives of the visually impairedpupil, as well as the learning support assistant and the physical educa-tion teacher would be explored to gain an understanding of inclusionaspects relevant to their respective situations. METHOD A case study method was adopted for this research project as it aimedto understand the feelings and beliefs of individuals involved in real-world settings. The participating pupil was a 13-year-old (Year 9/KeyStage 3) male pupil who attended a school for children with moderate HEROLD & DANDOLO: INCLUDING VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS 77  at University of Macedonia on March 22, 2014 jvi.sagepub.comDownloaded from 


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