Te Whariki and inclusive education—A survey of early childhood teacher’s views
When developing inclusive practices in early childhood education (ECE) settings teachers are required to be guided by the principles enshrined in Te Whāriki. When a child deemed to need ‘extra support’ comes into an ECE setting, to what extent might ECE teachers and support staff draw on the spirit and intention of this document to support the provision of a quality inclusive educational environment for the child concerned? To address this question, a small three-part qualitative survey of the views of a cohort of ECE staff charged with implementing fully inclusive practice in relation to children with special needs in not-for-profit kindergartens and ECE centres in New Zealand was initiated. Survey responses from the 27 ECE teachers suggest that further queries about how Te Whāriki might provide ECE teachers with enough clarity of purpose necessary to successfully include all children with special needs in their centres may be necessary. The article concludes by suggesting that in-depth conversations with ECE teachers and centre leaders about how the principles contained in Te Whakiri and existing government policy statements might more effectively align, so as to better facilitate delivery of EC education to children with special needs, may be useful.
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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015