Methodology

Evaluation approach

All state and state-integrated schools having an education review in the first two terms of 2011 were asked to complete a self-review questionnaire.

The questionnaire asked schools to report on:

  • the number of students in various special needs categories
  • policies addressing the inclusion of students with disabilities or special education needs
  • professional learning and development and support related to students with special needs
  • systems, initiatives, and programmes to support the achievement and/or inclusion of students with special education needs
  • SENCOs and their relevant experience and background
  • self-review data given to the Board about achievement and/or inclusion of students with special needs
  • building projects or hardware additions
  • challenges in including students with special education needs
  • a self-rating of inclusiveness with supporting comment.

The questionnaire defined special education students as those who have learning difficulties, communication, emotional or behavioural difficulties, or intellectual, sensory, or physical impairments.

Schools in this study

This report is based on questionnaires completed by 253 schools in the first two terms of 2011. Table 1 shows that the schools responding were broadly representative of schools nationally, except that the resulting sample had proportionately fewer composite, rural, small and high decile schools. [3]

 

Number of schools responding (253)

Percentage of responding schools

National percentage

School type

     

Full primary

Contributing

Intermediate

Composite (Year 1-15, Year 1-10)

Secondary (Year 7-15)

Secondary (Year 9-15)

115

89

14

6

7

22

45

35

6

2

3

9

44

33

5

5

4

9

Location of school

     

Main urban

Secondary urban

Minor urban

Rural

139

13

39

62

55

5

15

25

52

6

12

30

Size of school

     

Very small

Small

Medium

Large

Very large

13

53

103

63

21

5

21

41

25

8

9

23

39

20

9

Decile      

Low decile (deciles 1-3)

Medium decile (deciles 4-7)

High decile (deciles 8-10)

87

101

65

34

40

26

30

40

30

Analysis of documentation

As part of this questionnaire most schools provided a copy of their policies, and one quarter provided a copy of their report to the Board. These documents and the collated survey responses were analysed for this report.

Limitations

This report is based on data reported by schools. Although the questionnaire referred schools to ERO’s report on Including Students with High Needs (2010) as a basis for identifying their strengths and weaknesses, schools have used a variety of interpretations of inclusive.

While the intention was to gather information about the one-to-six percent of students with moderate to high needs, questionnaire responses suggest that schools were considering a much wider range of students when they responded.

These limitations need to be kept in mind when interpreting the report’s findings.