Mainstream teachers views about including children with special needs into regular classrooms
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The Special Education scene is changing rapidly in Singapore. More and more, we are seeing and increasing number of children with special needs being included in regular classrooms. Since early 2005, the Singapore Government has invested large sums of money in recruiting and training what is called Special Education Officers to assist teachers who have children with special needs in their classrooms. To further enhance this support for children with special needs in regular classrooms, the Ministry of Education (MOE) together with the National Institute of Education (NIE) provides additional special needs training to already qualified teachers in regular classrooms. these trained teachers undergo what is called a TSN course (Teachers' Trained in Special Needs) at the NIE which is the main training arm of the MOE. Courses are also offered as core or elective course course to all mainstream teachers undergoing pre-service teacher training at the NIE. With the current developments in special education, it is important to know that teacher's feel about including children with special needs into their classroom and their concerns.
This study used a convenience sampling method to collect data. A total of 114 (Male = 75; Female = 39) pre-service teachers volunteered to participate in this study. Trainee student teachers completed a survey at the end of a 12-week behavioural and learning problems as an elective. Pre-service Teachers were asked about their attitudes about including students with special needs into their classrooms. A modified version of a survey questionnaire (Nonis, 2004) was used in this study. The survey instrument used a 5 point Likert scale which had 4 areas realted to (a) Teacher's attitudes towards including students with special needs (b) Professional Development and (c) Resources. Percentage responses were calculated for each response to a question. In addition, written responses were grouped and summarized into two groups mainly (1) agree and (2) strongly agree while response (4) disagree and (5) strongly disagree formed another group. The overall findings indicate that pre-service teachers had mixed feelings about including children with special needs into regular classrooms. The majority did not feel that they had sufficient knowledge to handle children with special needs although willing to go for specialised training. Implications of these findings in relation to teacher training programmes and recruitment of teachers are discussed.
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