Special educational needs and primary initial teacher education: Student learning experiences in school and university college

Trussler, Sarah (2012). Special educational needs and primary initial teacher education: Student learning experiences in school and university college. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000bfde


This case study follows the learning experiences of 2nd Year initial teacher education (ITE) students during a module on Individual Learning Needs (ILN) and the related school based training placement. Much research has been published on student perceptions of special educational needs (SEN) (Sikes et al, 2007; Cole, 2005; Pearson, 2005) and the ITE process (Nind and Cochrane, 2002; Lambe and Bone, 2006; Jones et al, 2006) or specialist pedagogy (Mitchell, 2008; Norwich and Lewis, 2001) however this research examines their interrelationship. Four themes emerged: how schools define themselves as inclusive; perceptions of SEN; whether specialist pedagogy exists for SEN and how, therefore, higher education institutions should approach ITE.

The student cohort engaged in a Free Association exercise to assess their perceptions of disability and SEN which established a baseline for the developm~nts that followed. The case study includes a focus on four students in two schools who provided deeper insight through their experiences. The impact of the ILN module and school based training were measured in a series of questionnaires, interviews and observations, resulting in a series of recommendations for future ITE development.

Findings include the awareness that students are unable to bridge the barrier between University College and school at this stage. The community of practice that is the inclusive school operates in too alien a fashion for these inexperienced teachers to penetrate. Gaps exist between ethos and practice in schools due to conflicting pressures of personalised learning and bidding for resources for children with SEN and this proves confusing for students who then struggle to apply their emerging perceptions of SEN in their own practice. Student perceptions of a specialism to the teaching of children with SEN is then reinforced, despite the ILN module presenting a 'spectrum of needs' 'spectrum of teaching strategies' approach.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions