More children with special needs go to regular schools in Belgium. The special needs coordinator (SENCO) supports teachers in adapting their approach so all children can participate. Teachers look at SENCOs as experts and expect quick answers and disability knowledge. In order to meet this expectations SENCOs give advice and take over tasks but on the long term the participation and belonging of the child doesn’t increase.
Our research project wants to develop a support concept where teachers see the student with special needs as part of their class group and take responsibility in developing actions that increase the belonging and participation of the students.
Through action research five SENCOs developed a support concept. Teachers are seen as researchers, developers and evaluators. The SENCOs support is given not to compensate, but by being aware that the teacher keeps the control and gets more agency in working with the child with special needs. The SENCO is a critical friend, who facilitates the reflection by using a framework were belonging is a main concept. The focus is not on the impairment but ‘on the child in context’.
By data triangulation (observation, interview, scale of ‘Well being and participation’) a positive outcome was measured for the child with special needs.
The SENCO needs to be aware of his position. Is he an expert or a critical friend?
It is of great importance that the SENCO supports the reflection- in- dialogue, where the teacher develops actions wherefore the child gets a place in the classgroup.