Barriers to school inclusion : an investigation into the exclusion of disabled students from and within New Zealand schools : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Research evidence suggests that disabled students are experiencing forms of exclusion
from and within schools, however little is known of the nature of this phenomenon. This
study investigated the nature of school exclusion in relation to disabled students. It
sought to uncover the factors that exclude disabled students from and within schools,
and make recommendations to reduce and eliminate these factors.
Using a grounded theory methodology, this research investigated the nature of school
exclusion. It explored parents of disabled student’s views about their children’s
experiences of school exclusion both from school, and within school. The themes
identified by parents were then further investigated with school principals, teachers,
teacher aides and school students.
This study revealed that disabled students are being excluded from and within school in
New Zealand in a number of ways. These include being denied enrolment and/or fulltime
attendance at school; being denied access to, and participation within the
curriculum; being bullied; inappropriate teacher and/or principal beliefs and practices in
relation to funding; a lack of caring, valuing and responsibility by school staff; limited
teacher knowledge and understanding; poor relationships between parents and school
staff; and exclusionary beliefs and practices in relation to teacher aides.
Based on the findings of the study, four propositions were put forward to explain why
disabled students are being excluded from and within school. These are that disabled
students are considered to be less entitled to human rights than non-disabled students;
that there is a lack of school accountability in relation to legal and human rights
obligations to disabled students; that inclusive education is predicated on issues of
funding and resourcing; and that there is prejudice towards disabled students.
Based on the findings of how and why disabled students are excluded from and within
school, prompts for classroom teachers and school principals/senior management staff
were developed in seven areas shown to be important to this phenomenon. These areas
are access, accountability, attitudes, knowledge, responsibility, and funding and
resourcing. The prompts are intended to help guide attention and discussion to the
issues that are important if exclusion is to be reduced and eliminated. As well as this,
recommendations are made for government and government agencies outlining ways
that they can contribute to the reduction and elimination of school exclusion for