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The enactment of the New Basics Project in a special school

Gray, Brian (2008) The enactment of the New Basics Project in a special school. Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of the New Basics Project on teachers at a special school for students with intellectual impairments. The study is aimed at exploring the complex nature of the work of special educators as they enact the New Basics curriculum with a particular focus on the teachers’ opinions about challenges that arose for their curriculum, pedagogy and assessment practices. Attention is also paid to how the principal’s leadership supported the enactment of the New Basics in respect to what he did and why he used particular strategies. The nine teachers and their principal were involved in a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews from one of only three special schools in phase one of the New Basics trial in Queensland, Australia. These interviews produced data from the special educators as they were confronted with a new curriculum that challenged their previous teaching practices. The enactment of the New Basics curriculum occurred within the context of a state-sanctioned mandate to provide alternative programs to those offered in mainstream schools, for students with special needs. This thesis explores these teachers' experiences using critical theory as a basis for analyzing their opinions on issues such as the role of the special educator, tensions between old and new curricula, pedagogical and assessment practices, and connections between the at-school learning experiences for intellectually impaired students and the realities of post-school life. The investigation also examines the leadership conduct of the principal in changing times at the school. The findings suggest that the New Basics has played a significant role in providing structures for developing communities of practice amongst teachers; in supporting special educators to focus more on the educational needs of the students (e.g., literacy, numeracy, financial planning) and less on their medical needs (e.g., toileting, feeding, personal hygiene); and supporting school leadership that empowers and listens critically to teachers as essential components of the successful enactment of curriculum reforms like the New Basics.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 27658
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Grieshaber, Susan& Dooley, Karen
Keywords: special education, new basics, critical pedagogy, school reform, leadership
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Sep 2009 14:45
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:53

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