The challenges facing leaders and managers in the independent special school sector – a changing agenda

Roberts, Lesley (2008) The challenges facing leaders and managers in the independent special school sector – a changing agenda. EdD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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THE CHALLENGES FACING LEADERS AND MANAGERS IN THE INDEPENDENT SPECIAL SCHOOL SECTOR – a changing agenda
This study investigates the challenges facing leaders and managers of independent special schools during the period during when inclusion of SEN students in mainstream schools has been government policy. The challenges investigated centre around ascertaining the key role of these schools at this time, the general challenges they have faced, and the implications for them in the years ahead. This has included research on how independent special schools respond to external demands and expectations and how they balance these with their own internal imperatives.
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Abstract

This study investigates the challenges facing leaders and managers of independent special schools during the period during when inclusion of SEN students in mainstream schools has been government policy. The challenges investigated centre around ascertaining the key role of these schools at this time, the general challenges they have faced, and the implications for them in the years ahead. This has included research on how independent special schools respond to external demands and expectations and how they balance these with their own internal imperatives.

The research was carried out using an empirical phenomenological approach, with the objective of gathering qualitative data through the undertaking of interviews at both the micro and meso level of the organisational structures involved in SEN education. Participants were drawn from three approved independent special schools and three non-maintained special schools from the south east regions of England. Schools represented varying medical forms of SEN such as deafness, physical disabilities, severe learning difficulties and specific learning difficulties. Interviewees consisted of the headteacher, a deputy and classroom teacher from each school and the data was triangulated through documentation analysis using the participating schools’ recent OFSTED and CSCI reports as well as interviews with three SEN Caseworkers employed by three different LEA regions.

The findings revealed that a key role for independent special schools is propping up a seemingly failing national strategy. Challenges arise from educational matters when internal visions of what good special education should mean are over-ridden by external ideologies. External accountability tends to suppress innovation and change within the school by making the change process unwieldy. External accountabilities are inclined to conflict when they encroach upon the professionalism of staff, yet complement internal interests by effecting motivation to question objectives more closely. Balancing internal/external accountabilities is no problem for these leaders and managers, because their internal imperatives will always come first. Implications for the years ahead will arise from the success or failure of the national inclusion strategy to accommodate a rising number of SEN students under limited state provision.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Additional Information:This study investigates the challenges facing leaders and managers of independent special schools during the period during when inclusion of SEN students in mainstream schools has been government policy. The challenges investigated centre around ascertaining the key role of these schools at this time, the general challenges they have faced, and the implications for them in the years ahead. This has included research on how independent special schools respond to external demands and expectations and how they balance these with their own internal imperatives. The research was carried out using an empirical phenomenological approach, with the objective of gathering qualitative data through the undertaking of interviews at both the micro and meso level of the organisational structures involved in SEN education. Participants were drawn from three approved independent special schools and three non-maintained special schools from the south east regions of England. Schools represented varying medical forms of SEN such as deafness, physical disabilities, severe learning difficulties and specific learning difficulties. Interviewees consisted of the headteacher, a deputy and classroom teacher from each school and the data was triangulated through documentation analysis using the participating schools’ recent OFSTED and CSCI reports as well as interviews with three SEN Caseworkers employed by three different LEA regions. The findings revealed that a key role for independent special schools is propping up a seemingly failing national strategy. Challenges arise from educational matters when internal visions of what good special education should mean are over-ridden by external ideologies. External accountability tends to suppress innovation and change within the school by making the change process unwieldy. External accountabilities are inclined to conflict when they encroach upon the professionalism of staff, yet complement internal interests by effecting motivation to question objectives more closely. Balancing internal/external accountabilities is no problem for these leaders and managers, because their internal imperatives will always come first. Implications for the years ahead will arise from the success or failure of the national inclusion strategy to accommodate a rising number of SEN students under limited state provision.
Keywords:Accountability, Challenges, Statements, Interdependency, Inclusion, Key Roles
Subjects:X Education > X320 Academic studies in Primary Education
X Education > X360 Academic studies in Specialist Education
X Education > X330 Academic studies in Secondary Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > Centre for Educational Research & Development (CERD)
ID Code:1844
Deposited By: Joss Winn
Deposited On:13 Mar 2009 16:49
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 08:31

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