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'I wasn't trained to work with them': mainstream teachers' attitudes to children with speech and language difficulties

Marshall, Julie and Ralph, Sue and Palmer, Sue (2015) 'I wasn't trained to work with them': mainstream teachers' attitudes to children with speech and language difficulties. International journal of inclusive education, 6 (3). pp. 199-215. ISSN 1360-3116

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Abstract

Approximately one-eighth of early school-aged children in the UK have speech and language difficulties. Many such children are now being educated in mainstream settings. However, there is a dearth of up-to-date and valid research that considers UK (student) teachers' attitudes towards such children. Two hundred and sixty-eight trainee teachers (PGCE students) from Manchester were given two questionnaires, containing both closed and open questions, to measure their attitudes towards and experiences with children with speech and language difficulties. A range of attitudes was expressed and most concern was around the issues of resources (both time and knowledge based). Most teachers were positive about their expectations of such children. Attitudes were not significantly related to teachers' gender, teaching type/subject, previous knowledge of someone with speech and language difficulties or experience of children with such difficulties. Views on the educational placement for children with a range of communication difficulties varied. The authors consider that two-pronged action is needed to facilitate an improvement: a greater focus on the inclusion debate (not specifically tied to this group of children) and also additional knowledge and resources.

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