Marshall, J., Stojanovik, V. and Ralph, S. (2002) "I never gave it a second thought": PGCE students' attitudes towards the inclusion of children with speech and language impairments. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders.37(4), pp. 475-489. 1460-6984.
Approximately 7% of young school-aged children have specific language impairments. Many such children are now being educated in mainstream settings. However, there is a dearth of up-to-date and valid research that considers UK (student) teachers' attitudes towards such children. This study aimed to investigate trainee teachers' attitudes towards teaching children with speech and language impairments, to investigate the reported effects of those attitudes on participants' acceptance of teaching such children, and to consider any implications for speech and language therapy (SLT) services and inclusive education. Nineteen trainee teachers (PGCE students) from a university in the North West of England took part in semistructured group interviews. The data were transcribed and analysed qualitatively, and recurrent themes identified. A range of attitudes was expressed, and six major themes were identified from the data. Participants discussed concerns about the resources and knowledge they considered necessary to support fully children with specific language impairments. There was some differentiation of attitudes related to the types of disability that a child may have and the subject being taught. Much of the discussion was about disabilities in general rather than specific to speech and language impairments. Many of the participants reflected on their own previous experiences to inform their opinions. Although many of the participants expressed positive attitudes, some had concerns about workload and at least one was openly hostile to the idea of teaching children with disabilities within mainstream settings. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to previous research, the quantitative data obtained in this project, SLT services and the increases in the inclusion of children with specific language impairments into mainstream educational settings.