An evaluation of supports for children with disabilities in mainstream preschool
This study set out to evaluate the supports’ for children with disabilities in mainstream preschool. It examined the knowledge and experience of childcare practitioners’ who work with children with disabilities and explored the attitudes and concerns of staff towards the possible future intake of children with disabilities into their service. The researcher ascertained the information for this study by selecting a qualitative approach in the form of semi-structured interviews as it allowed participants’ to speak freely about their views and experiences and provided an in-depth knowledge to the researcher. This study was conducted with six childcare practitioners’ working in the same organisation. The level of qualifications’ and experiences’ varied from each individual childcare practitioner. The sample was select using a combination of purposive and convenience sampling. After each interview was complete the recordings were transcribed. The results were then thematically analysed. A review of the literature in relation to education for people with a disability was investigated. It evaluated research and reports regarding disability and its history, the past education provided to children with a disability, challenges faced and the techniques in use by teachers’ to educate these children. Historically the provision of services has illustrated that individuals’ with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities, have been subjected to marginalisation, exclusion by society and exposure to unhuman conditions (Sheerin, 2009). In contrast, Rose et al (2010) highlights that there has been significant changes and developments in ascertaining an inclusive school environment. In order to combat the issue of limited places for children with disabilities in mainstream preschool The Supporting Access to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme was proposed (Inter-Departmental Group, 2015). The results displayed that the practitioners’ had a clear understanding of disability. The professionals’ experiences of working with children with a disability varied. Four of the six participants had first-hand experiences while one participant had a personal awareness, the other participant had no experience to date. The participants’ in the study indicated that supervision and communication were supports that were beneficial to staff when working with a child with a disability. Confidence in communication between staff and management was recognised by the childcare practitioners’. However, it is clear from this study that the childcare practitioners’ desire more supports to be present in the preschool environment. This research concluded with recommendations for the introduction of compulsory training courses to allow practitioners’ to view the situation from the Child's perspective and in turn possibly require less support from management. A recommendation for the piloting of new proposed programmes to instil confidences among staff. A final recommendation was made regarding on-going research in order to monitor supports available to practitioners’.