Just before Christmas, Mencap – the UK’s leading charity for people with learning disabilities – reported results of a survey of parents’ perceptions of their children’s education. Responses from 908 parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) found that 65% thought their child receives a poorer education, compared with pupils without SEND. Also, 64% said their child had been taken out of class because of their learning disability.
The findings clearly prompt concern, but they also invite broader questions about how we corroborate the views of parents and others with what happens in schools. In this case, investigating the veracity of subjective views requires additional objective data concerning what actually goes on in classrooms where children with SEND are taught.
We can obtain such data through a technique called systematic observation (SO). SO was developed in the early-1970s after researchers realised that (more…)