The utility of the continuum of support framework in supporting class teachers and special education teachers in the identification and monitoring of pupil
MetadataShow full item record
Background: The context for this study was prompted by the introduction of a new model for the allocation of special education teaching resources for mainstream schools (National Council for Special Education [NCSE], 2014; Department of Education and Skills [DES], 2017a) that aligns itself fundamentally with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) three stage process model of service delivery (DES, 2016). Shevlin et al. (2013a)suggested that some schools were not aware of, or were not uniformly following, the three staged problem-solving framework recommended by NEPS, the Continuum of Support. Aims: This study sought to explore class teachers’ and special education teachers’ perspectives on the Continuum of Support framework in providing support to pupils with special educational needs (SEN). The overarching aims of this research were to explore their perspectives by examining (1) the utility of this problem-solving framework; and (2) the supportive and constraining factors that impinge on their activities at the Classroom Support, School Support and School Support Plus stages. Methods: This study adopted a phenomenological research approach. Engeström’s (1987) Activity Theory was utilised as a theoretical perspective. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather qualitative data from class teachers and special education teachers working in mainstream primary schools across Ireland. Thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the interview data using an inductive and deductive approach. Results: The results offer a descriptive picture of the utility of the Continuum of Support framework through the creation of an Activity System model. Results suggest implications for policy and practice with particular implications for the practice of educational psychologists. Conclusion: The study’s findings contribute to the knowledge base on the utility of the Continuum of Support framework in both educational and psychological practice. Through the use of Activity Theory as a psychological framework, primary and secondary contradictions, or areas of tension between components of the Continuum of Support Activity System model, were explored and discussed. This highlighted potential areas of change, growth, and development for both mainstream primary schools and educational psychologists.
KeywordsContinuum of support
Inductive and deductive thematic analysis