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“Cooling the Mark Out”: Experienced Teaching Assistants’ Perceptions of Their Work in the Inclusion of Pupils With Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Secondary Schools

Lehane, Teresa (2016) “Cooling the Mark Out”: Experienced Teaching Assistants’ Perceptions of Their Work in the Inclusion of Pupils With Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Secondary Schools. Educational Review, 68 (1). pp. 4-23. ISSN Print: 0013-1911 Online: 1465-3397

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Abstract

Experienced teaching assistants’ (TAs’) perceptions and constructions of their work in the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) within mainstream secondary schools are the focus of this study. In a field where much research has focussed on the technicist (TA characteristics and deployment), exploration of “inclusion” and of power relationships is prioritised. Elements of critical discourse analysis (CDA) are used to examine the words of TAs talking about their work. A simple CDA framework was produced, based on the work of others, piloted, and then used to analyse interview data from eight TAs who have extensive experience and degree qualifications. TAs report prioritising discretion, even imperceptibility, in class as they actively stay “under the radar” of teachers and schools. A divide within the mainstream schools between “the mainstream” and SEN resourced “base” seems apparent to the TAs, whether the support base is geographically separated or not. “Inclusion” is actively sought, for example through advocacy, alternative provision and energetic deployment of professional strategies. Insights from the work of Goffman are deployed in the analysis of the TAs’ perceptions in order to contribute theoretical imagination to consider why the limitations in TA practice (reported within this study and within the wider literature) may occur. A degree of emotional labour is indicated but Goffman’s work on managing spoiled identity, stigma and “cooling” is of interest in offering possible explanations for the TAs’ experiences.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: teaching assistants, secondary schools, inclusion, Goffman, special educational needs
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Education
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Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2015 08:25
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2015 17:43
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3915

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