What is life like for a mainstream primary school child who has been identified as having learning difficulties?

Prof Doc Thesis

Lay, Julia 2011. What is life like for a mainstream primary school child who has been identified as having learning difficulties? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsLay, Julia
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Few studies have focused on the perspectives of children with 'learning difficulty'
labels in the UK. This exploratory study aimed to investigate the experience of
children in a mainstream primary school in London who had been identified as
having 'learning difficulties'. Six children were observed in their school
environment, interviewed using props and pictures, and invited to take photos of
significant features of their daily lives. Data were transcribed and analysed
thematically from a critical realist standpoint. The children in the study were
mostly not remarkable from other children, either in their appearance or
behaviour, or in their experiences and views. They had a variety of
understandings and feelings about the additional support they received, but
largely seemed fairly neutral about it and did not seem to feel particularly different
from their peers. In contrast with much of the literature, stories of stigma and
bullying were not found. This seemed to reflect an inclusive school culture.
Some of the children were however noticeably socially isolated from their peers.
Teaching assistants played a key role in several children's lives, and this was
largely positive, although their role sometimes constrained opportunities for peer
interactions and autonomy. Although the sample was not representative of
children with 'learning difficulties', the findings point to the possibility that schools
can create an environment whereby children with different learning abilities or
styles do not experience 'impairment' (difficulties with learning) or 'disability'
(barriers to opportunities). This may only apply to children with milder differences
from supportive families, but is consistent with theory that both impairment and
disability are socially constructed. Further research is needed into how schools
can create such an environment, as well as into barriers to friendships for
children with 'learning difficulty' labels.

Publication dates
PrintSep 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Jan 2014
Additional information

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