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Tackling the barriers to disabled parents’ involvement in their children’s education

Stalker, K. O. and Brunner, R. and Maguire, R. and Mitchell, J. (2011) Tackling the barriers to disabled parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Educational Review, 63 (2). pp. 233-250. ISSN 0013-1911

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Promoting parental participation plays a significant role in education policies across Britain. Previous research has identified various barriers to involving disabled parents. This paper reports findings from part of a study examining disabled parents' engagement in their children's education, which focused on good practice. Twenty-four case studies were conducted with parents with a range of impairments. Common themes are drawn out, including the perceived importance and benefits of involvement, the need for effective communication and access, both to buildings and information, and the significance of an inclusive school ethos. The findings are discussed in the context of previous research. While some findings accord with the social model of disability, it is argued that more nuanced understandings of disability, which take more account of personal experience, offer a fuller explanation. Implications for policy and practice are discussed including staff training, facilitating disclosure of impairment and local authority responsibilities.