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Teachers’ Pedagogies and the ‘Special’ Curriculum: A Study of the Beliefs and Practices of Teachers That Shape the Ecologies of SLD/PMLD Schools

STEWART, CATHERINE,MARIE,BRODIE (2016) Teachers’ Pedagogies and the ‘Special’ Curriculum: A Study of the Beliefs and Practices of Teachers That Shape the Ecologies of SLD/PMLD Schools. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Catherine Stewart Ed.D Thesis 2016)


Scarce in the academic literature exploring the experiences of teachers within school environments specialising in the education of special educational needs children and disabilities are accounts from teachers working within SLD/PMLD schools. In light of this gap in scholarship, this study examined nine teachers’ ecological narratives and explored their influence upon curriculum decisions and consequent pedagogic practices in the context of a naturalistic setting within four SLD/PMLD schools.

Three purposes framed this investigation. Firstly, to gain an in-depth understanding of how the pedagogic beliefs and identities of SLD/PMLD teachers are constructed within the framework of the school-espoused curriculum. Secondly, how teachers’ practices emerge as functions of individual ecologies, beliefs and identities through autobiography and thirdly how these teachers’ identities, ecologies and practices in turn, re-shape the enacted-curricular.

Bronfenbrenner’s (1979; 1989; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998) ecological theories were considered as a conceptual framework that stood behind this work, but as personal ‘special’ pedagogical narratives unfolded, their influence became less formal in encapsulating how teachers constructed the curriculum as a situated pedagogic experience so local narrative frameworks were utilised.

Data sources included multiple individual interviews to enable ecological constructs to unfold, classroom observations, personal writing, research notes and other salient material. Dialogue between the researcher and participants ensured the rigour of the study. Experiences both personal and professional were used as a key to unlock participants’ lives with multiple opportunities to critically assess portrayals.

Analysis of data revealed that teacher knowledge and personal ecologies were encapsulated both within conscious, internally and externally justified opinions and unconscious un-reflected intuitions, submerged within the identities of the teachers and their students. Whilst the importance of individual teachers’ micro-ecologies as being unique was apparent in the context of current research in inclusive and specialist education, teachers’ voices seemed to be heard and listened to only by those working within SLD and PMLD settings, both through choice and almost benign acceptance. Political macro-structures of inclusion were juxtaposed to micro-ideals of inclusive pedagogy and whilst ecological constructs impacted greatly, pedagogic practice emanated ultimately from personal belief and identity; in essence, these teachers were the curriculum.

At a time of profound change in Inclusive Education, this study contributes to deficient and under-theorised notions of SLD/PMLD teachers’ narratives and practices. More critically, this thesis makes a significant and original contribution to scholarship concerned with the narration of pedagogic inclusion and how its teacherly embodiment may foster inclusive classrooms.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Teacher pedagogies, SLD, PMLD, Teachers beliefs', Teachers' Ecologies, Special Needs Schools
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Nov 2016 14:21

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