The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Mainstream Post-Primary Physical Education from the Perspective of the Physical Education Teacher

Deirdre Barry-Power

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    This study explored the realities of including students with disabilities into mainstream physical education classes in post-primary schools in Waterford City from the perspective of the physical education teacher . Data collected was both qualitative and quantitative in nature and was conducted in two phases. Phase one consisted of the administration of questionnaires to all physical education teachers (n=12) and all students with disabilities attending mainstream secondary schools in Waterford City (n=22). In-depth semi-structured interviews were also carried out with a sample of the physical education teachers. Once phase one was completed and the data analysed, phase two was developed. It consisted of observations of students with disabilities participating in physical education classes and based on these observations and information gathered from phase one a workshop intervention was carried out with physical education teachers and special needs assistants. Results of the study revealed that only 1% of students surveyed who attend mainstream schools in Waterford City had a disability. Results also found that a low number of physical education teachers had received any initial teacher training or the opportunity to gain further training once qualified in the area of special needs and inclusion. Teachers revealed that more emphasis is needed on special needs education both during initial teacher training and in-service. Many barriers to inclusion were highlighted during the study. The most prevalent of those were limited and unsuitable access to facilities, game-dominated physical education and negative attitudes of non-disabled students towards those with a disability. The study also highlighted that the development of individual education plans and the input of physical education teachers into these plans as an area of neglect and the role and training of special needs assistant to aid in the inclusion of students with disabilities in physical education needs further investigation and development. The results therefore provide evidence that students with disabilities in mainstream physical education face many barriers to their inclusion in and adjustments need to be made in order for future inclusion to be successful.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Connor, Sean, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2010


    • Physical education


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