Inclusion, special educational needs, trainee teachers, autism, collaboration.
Successful inclusion of students with autism in mainstream schools means a degree of challenge for trainee teachers which may require additional supports (Crossland and Dunlap, 2012). Therefore, there is a need to develop teacher education programmes that critically engage with issues of exclusion, diversity, and inclusion (Florian and Rouse, 2009). This paper addresses these issues, by systematically reflecting on the findings from a case study of a highly effective and inclusive mainstream primary school in the north east of England. A pupil on the autism spectrum was shadowed and observed by the researcher for one day. In addition, his parents and the staff at his school who were involved in supporting the pupil, were interviewed. The findings reveal that key practices, as outlined in the ‘Keys to Inclusion’ framework from an Erasmus + project, especially the ‘keys’ of collaboration and communication, were vitally important contributors in meeting the needs of a child with autism and fully including him in the school. The study has implications for Initial Teacher Training programmes.
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About the author: Lucy Barker is Senior Lecturer in Education at Northumbria University, Newcastle, England.