Inclusive education as seen by mainstream preschool teachers
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Despite the fact that the process of inclusive education implementation has been taking place in Poland for a few years now, it still encounters a lot of obstacles relating to, among other things, the readiness of mainstream settings, including teachers, for inclusion. For this process to be successful, teachers’ attitudes to the idea of inclusive education are also important. The primary purpose of the study was to explore the opinions of mainstream preschool teachers on selected aspects of inclusive education for students with disabilities. The study covered 76 preschool teachers. A diagnostic survey was used in the study. The findings showed that mainstream preschool teachers (generally) supported the idea of inclusive education for students with disabilities to a small extent only (i.e., a little bit below the average). This opinion correlated positively with a sense of readiness for specific tasks relating to the education of students with disabilities and providing it in an educational setting as well as with having formal teacher education in this area. The study also showed that mainstream preschool teachers were relatively most favorably inclined (however, only around the average) toward inclusive preschool education for students with mild intellectual disabilities, and least favorably - for students with multiple disabilities and blind students. The findings confirmed the reports found in the literature regarding significant gaps in preparation for tasks relating to the education of students with disabilities felt by mainstream preschool teachers. They also confirmed the fact that the vast majority of teachers saw many obstacles to the implementation of inclusive education in preschool, in particular relating to: specialists (mainly lack of specialists), too large preschool groups, and school space (mainly architectural barriers). Moreover, the findings showed that only a small number of teachers saw advantages of inclusive education - subject to specific conditions, though. The study findings suggest that it is necessary to provide more effective, specialist support for mainstream preschool teachers in their work with students/children with disabilities and to introduce changes in preschool teacher training at the college level.
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