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Return to school after acquired brain injury in the UK – the educators' perspectives

Bate, C, Turner, K ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2211-6309 and Fricke, S (2021) Return to school after acquired brain injury in the UK – the educators' perspectives. The Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 21 (3). pp. 242-253. ISSN 1471-3802

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Abstract

Childhood acquired brain injury (ABI) is associated with poorer life outcomes. Increasing numbers of children and young people are surviving severe brain injury and returning to mainstream schools with multiple impairments. It is widely acknowledged that for these children, their school becomes by default their rehabilitation centre. International studies of this transition and a recent UK government report criticize educators' inconsistent implementation of support strategies, lack of educator training and poor communication between clinicians, educators, child and family. The educators' perspectives of the return-to-school are, however, not well represented in the literature. This study therefore explored the experiences of educators in the UK (N = 10) who had recently facilitated a return-to-school of a child with ABI aged 8–12 (N = 5) using semi-structured interviews analysed by data-driven thematic analysis. The findings highlight common experiences: a continuum of intensive problem-solving with heavy reliance on the Special Educational Needs Coordinator; educators valuing collaboration with clinical specialists in context over general ‘training’; uncertainty over the validity of implementing support strategies from prior teaching experience; uncertainty about how to support the child's emotional needs; and frustration with UK statutory processes for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Recommendations are made for changes to practice and future research.

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