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Whydoparentssendtheirchildrentoresourcecentres?

CHILDRENwhoattendresourcecentres
RESOURCECENTRESandthepurposetheyserve
PARENTSoutlooksonresourcecentres
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ResourceCentres:Internationallyresourcecentresprovideattentionto
ageingpopulations,
schooldropouts,
atriskstudents,
homelesschildren,
wardsofthestate,
thedeafandhearingimpaired
(Geskeetal.,1997).
ForthepurposeofthisassignmentwerestickingtotheMaltesecontexti.eChildrenwithadisability
Whatdoresourcecentresprovide,atleastonpaper?
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InMalta,RCs:
providesupporttostudentswithIndividualEducationalNeeds,totheirfamiliesandin
mainstreamschools.
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RESOURCECENTRES:
Knowledgecentre,expertisecentreorresourcecentre.(Meijer,2010)
Theyprovidecourses,trainingandarangeofeducationalformatsforteachersandotherprofessionals.
Supportisalsoprovidedwithregardstothedevelopmentofprogramsandmaterialforappropriate
developmentalmaterial,anditsdistributionaswellassupportinenteringthejobmarket.Helpisalso
offeredtoindividualstudentsandparents(Meijer,2010).
TheRCsobligationtohelpoutwithMainstreameducationislargelydependentonthecountrys
educationsystemandthestatesviewonthematter(Meijer,2010).
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Resourcecentresareappealingtoparentsofchildrenwithadisability:
recommendedbyanumberofprofessionalsthatareseenasauthoritativebyparents.
theprovisionofequipment,likethemultisensoryroom,hydrotherapypoolandhealthcarestaff
intheschool(Burl,2010)isanattractivesupplementorreplacementtomainstream
classrooms.
Researchhasshown(TantiBurl,Camilleri,&Zucca,2009VianelloandMoalli,2001)that
teachersaremorepronetolookatastudentsdifficultbehaviourthantheirabilitytolearn.
Parentsbelievethatresourcecentreswherechildrenwithsimilardisabilitiesattendclasstogether
arelesspronetobullying,mistreatmentorinsensitivityfrompeers(Broeretal.,2005)than
theirordinaryschoolcounterpart.
German(2013)providesuswithissuesparentswhosenttheirchildtoaresourcecentrehadto
sayabouttheattitudeatmainstreamschools,TheHeadwasnotassupportive.Atfirstshedid
notwantHarrytoattendschoolbecauseofhiscondition.Hewasinawheelchairandshe
sawhimasalotofwork.Sheusedtotellmethatshehasenoughonherplatewiththerestof
thechildren.
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MALTA:
ABRIEFHISTORY
Theinitialmovementstoincludepeoplewithdisabilitiesintosocietybeganinthe197080sthroughthe
NationalCommissionforPersonswithDisability.
However,itwasnotuntil1993thatthefirstNationalPolicyforSpecialEducationwasestablishedto
showtheGovernmentthatpeopledidwishforchildrenwithadisabilitytobeincludedinmainstream
education,followedupbytheprojectIncludingtheExcluded,jointlycoordinatedbytheUniversityof
MaltaandthenowprogrammeforInclusiveEducation(TantiBurl,Soresi,Nightingale,&Xuereb,
1997).Thelattersentripplingeffectsthroughthecountrysstatesystem,whichrespondedwiththe
EqualOpportunitiesAct(PersonswithDisability),anattempttocountersocialdiscriminationonthe
matter(Bartolo,n.d.).
WHYRCs?Childrenwithadisabilityaremovedoutofordinaryschools,betheyprimaryor
secondary,andirrespectiveofanumberofdocumentswithplanstofurtherconsolidatetheprincipleof
inclusion(MinistryofEducation,Youth,Employment,2005c),areencouragedthroughanabundance
ofopportunities,tospendmoretimeinresourcerooms,learningzones,resourcescentres(Burl,
2010).
0.36%ofthetotalschoolpopulationattendingresourcecentres(MinistryofEducation,Youth,
Employment,2009,p.13),afigurewhichalthoughbeingoneofthelowestintheEU,
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InMalta
BasedonSalamancaStatement(Unesco,1994)whichwasissuedtoformulatestrategies
tosupportinclusiveschooling(Ainscow,1997)
Itsetaframeworkforschoolstoaccommodatechildren,regardlessoftheirneeds(Unesco1994)
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Malta:Multi/BiDirectional
Meijeretal.(2003)toexplorethedegreeofinclusion,thesebeingtheUnidirectionalapproach,
MultidirectionalapproachandBidirectionalapproach.Thefirstapproach,wherestudentsare
includedinthesameschoolthusofferingoneeducationalsystemwithavarietyofservicesfocusedat
school.Theformer,wherethereareamyriadofapproaches[offered]fortheintegrationofchildren
withdisabilityandlearningdifficultiesbetweenmainstreamandspecialschools.Andlastlytwodistinct
educationalsystems:onetypeofschoolfortypicallydevelopingchildrenandtheotherforthosewitha
statementofeducationalneedsneedingextrasupport.
Burl(2010)statedthatMaltaseemedtobeheadedinthemultidirectionalapproachearlierthan2010,
butthathoweverrecentgovernmentalapproachestoeducationalreformseemedtobedriving
educationalapproachesforchildrenwithspecialneedsupthemoresegregatedalleyofthebidirectional
educationalapproach.
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RCsinMalta
Thus,onecansaythatonpaper,theattendanceofchildreninresourcecentresisthefruitofaninclusive
ideologyinwhichallchildrenhaveaccesstothesameamountoflearningopportunities.Butisthis
inclusiveidealreallybeingachieved?Possiblythemostopinionatedpeoplewhowouldbewillingto
answerthisquestionareinfactthechildrensparents.
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Parents
Choosingtherightschoolisoneofthemostdifficultdecisionsparentsofchildrenwithdisabilitiesmust
makeThereisalwayssomeanxietyinsendingchildrentoschools,sinceitsthefirststepintoasociety
wherethechildrenneedtobeautonomous.Tensionswithinparentsmayarisewhenmemoryofpast
rejectionsofthechildorparentsduetotheirdisabilityismetwiththeconcerntowardsthechild
becomingavalidmemberofsociety
GravesandTracy(1998)
personalopinionsoftenendupaffectingbeliefsandattitudesofthefamilytowardsthesituationtheyare
in.(Gething,1992)
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Whenparentshaveachildtheirlivesarechangedforever.Whenthatchildisnot`normal'itcomesasa
heavyload.Manyparentsdomakeasuccessfuladjustmentandcometorecogniseandcherishtheir
child'sindividuality.Societymakesitdifficult.Whenschoolssegregatechildrenitunderlinestheir
specialness.Ifprofessionalssaythattheyneedtobesegregated,parentscannoteasilystandagainstthe
tide.
Integrationhelpsparentsinthisregard.Theirchildrenattendanordinaryschool,alongwiththeirpeersin
theircommunity..Thisdoesnotremovethespecialneedsbutitplacestheminperspective.Parentsare
alltooawareoftheneedforspecialistattention.Theycanbenefitfromhavingthisprovidedinacontext
ofnormalitywheretheirchildengagesinsomeactivitiesalongsidepeers.Whenthishappenstheyare
lesslikelytoperceivetheirchildintermsofthehandicappedidentityascribedbysocietyandmaybe
helpedtoseehimorherasapreciousindividualwhohappenstohavespecialneeds.
PARENTSNumberofchildreninresourcecentresseemstoincreaseinsecondaryschoolswhen
comparedtotheprimaryequivalent(MinistryofEducation,Youth,Employment,2009)duetoparent
waitingbeforeactingonneedsofchild(needforRCormoreinclusivesetting?)
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ThemainstreamingandinclusionprocessisassistedthroughtheeducationandtrainingofLearning
supportassistants,asadominantargumentopposinginclusionhasbeen,forthepastfewdecades,that
childrenwithadisabilityshouldnotbeincludedinmainstreameducationforaslongasteachersarenot
properlytrained(Burl,2010).
AgiusFerrante(2008,pp.8485)notedthattheintroductionofLSAswasnotenough,butrather
throughevidencebasedstrategies,sheprovidedastudywhichencouragestheshiftfrom
childrenpeggedapproachtoteampeggedsupport.Thatis,thetransitionfromanLSAfollowingthe
samestudentfortwotothreeyears,toadynamicteamwheretheLSAchangedannually.This
approachisanattemptatmakinginclusionateameffort,whichhascarriedovertootherteachers,
studentsandparentsalike.
Personallyitimpactedmeasaparentunderstandingdifferenceandintolerance.Parentofchild
withoutadisability(German,2013).
Teachingstrategytrainingintheuseofuniversaldesignforteaching,mindmapsanduseofcircletimein
class(TantiBurletal.,2009)needstobeexploredtocombatteachersnegativeattitudesand
noninclusivemethods.
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METHOD
Rationale
Theresearchersoriginalambitionwhentheresearch
questionwasassignedwastoinvestigatedirectlythe
experienceofparentsofchildrenwithdisabilityby
interviewingthemandanalysingthedataquantitatively.
However,becauseofthescopeandlimitsoftheresearch,
theresearchersworkedwiththeirtutortoredimensionthe
researchsothatitbecamemoremanageable.Thedecision
tointerviewworkingpsychologistsregardingtheir
viewpointonparentsmotivationtosendchildrento
resourcecentreswastakenearlyonintheproject,mostly
becausethenatureoftheassignmentdidnotpermitdelicate
ethicalhurdleslikeinterviewingparentsoranythingofthe
sort.
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FindingParticipants
Duetothefactthatparticipantswererequiredtobe
psychologistsoperatinginthefieldofdisabilityand
education,purposivesamplingwasusedtorecruit
participants.Theywerereferredtotheresearchersbythe
servicemanagerforresourcecentresinMalta.
Fourrespondentsacceptedtoparticipatesothateachofthe
researcherswouldhaveoneinterviewtoconduct.The
participantswereinformedaboutthepurposeofthestudy
andtheirrights,withalltheinformationfoundinthe
researchstatementandconsentform(seeAppendixA)
giventothempriortothedatacollectionprocess.
Indeed,beforeproceedingtocollectingthedata,arapport
wasestablishedwitheachparticipanttoensure
goodqualitydatacollection.(Creswell,1998)
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Interviews
Eachresearchercarriedoutonesemistructured,
oneononeinterviewwhichwasbasedontheinterview
guide.Atotaloffourinterviewswereconducted.Eachone
wasconductedinaquietandprivatesettingwherethe
participantfeltcomfortable.Theinterviewwasrecorded
usinganaudiorecorder,becausedatathatisthen
transcribedintotextisthemostcommonmethodusedto
obtaindataforIPA.
Thedatacollectionwascarriedoutinthiswayduetothe
factthatinterviewscollecteliciteddatathisallowsoneto
collectdatathatdescribesthedaytodayexperiencesof
people,asgenerallypeopleenjoyspeakingtosomeonewho
expressesinterestinthesubjectmatter.Thisisthetypeof
datarequiredforourresearchquestion.(Payne,2007)
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InterviewGuide
Thequestionsasked(AppendixB)werebasedonasetof
interviewscarriedoutbyNicoleGerman(2013).These
questionsweretargetedtoparentsofchildrenwithadisability
andsoughtouttofindwhattheiroutlookstowardstheirchilds
educationwas.Forthepurposeofthisresearchthesequestions
werereadaptedinsuchawaythattheycouldbeaskedto
psychologists.
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Analysingthedata
Thefourinterviewsweretranscribedandanalysed
individuallybyeachoftherespectivefourresearchers.
Eachresearcherexaminedtheirtranscript,readingand
rereadingtheirtranscripttofamiliarisethemselveswiththe
interviews.Eachresearchertookinitialnoteswhen
analysingtheinterview,andthenusedthemtoidentifyand
labelthemeswhichwerebasedonwhattheparticipantsaid
aswellasthetheoreticalconstructsusedtoanalysethe
participantsphenomenology.
Afteridentifyingthethemesatanindividuallevel,the
groupofresearchersdiscussedalltheimportantthemes,
identifyingtheconnectionsbetweenthesepreliminary
themesandlinkingthemtogetherintosuperordinate
themes.Theseprovidedanindepthandexhaustive
descriptionofthephenomenonthatisbeingresearched.
Theresearchersthenorganisedthesesuperordinatethemes
alongwiththeirsubthemesintoatable.(Storey,2007
Creswell,1998)
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Theresearchersadoptedaneclecticapproachintheir
interpretations,usingseveraltheoreticalconstructsratherthan
onetheory.Nonetheless,althoughtheIPAapproachnecessitates
theresearchersinterpretationsintheanalysis,itwasensured
thatsuchtheoreticalinterpretationsaroseclearlyfromthedata,
andthatparticipantsexperiencesandfeelingswerenotlostin
thethemesthatemerged.Indeed,theresearchersconstantly
comparedeachothersworkthroughouttheresearchprocess,
givingacriticalanalysisontheotherresearchersanalysesand
providingadifferentperspectivetotheirinterpretations.
RESULTS
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UNIQUENESSOFDISABILITY:Itwasabundantlyclearthatthemoresevereanduniquethe
disability,theharderitwasforparentstoaccessprimaryeducation.Teachersfounditharderto
acceptthechildwithadisability,makingitaneasierchoiceforparentstoturntoResource
Centresfortheirindividualsupport.
UnfortunatelymainstreamschoolsdonotconformtotheSalamancaStatement,whereschools
shouldaccommodateallchildren,regardlessoftheirconditionaswellasResourceCentres
do.