Tomorrow is (probably) the last day of data collection for the PMLD social inclusion project. I’ve spent two years driving up and down the country, visiting schools, developing relationships with staff and students, observing different forms of practice, and learning a lot about the nature of social engagement for children with PMLD who experience both special and mainstream placements. I’ve been fortunate enough to observe children in preschool, foundation, primary and secondary education. The settings have been diverse, and include an integrated nursery, informal dual placement arrangements, a special unit in mainstream school, and a co-located site. The amount of data I’ve collected is somewhat daunting in terms of its quantity and depth but I have a year to analyse the research and write it up so hopefully I’ll be OK! As cliche as it sounds, the experience has been eye-opening. Some children with PMLD do remarkably well in terms of peer interaction in mainstream schools while others seem to be almost hidden from sight. Time is needed to dig deeper into the data to explore these issues further.
Although eight children were recruited to the study, only seven were observed in the end. It was clear that one teacher was pressured into supporting the project by senior management so I made the decision to cancel data collection. As such, if timetable and budget permits I may collect more secondary school data. (Given my teaching and supervision commitments I’m not confident that I’ll find the time until the summer term).
If you would like to learn more about the background and design of the research you can read my book ‘The PMLD Ambiguity‘ or a paper published in Child Care in Practice. These publications refer to my PhD work. Publications on my postdoctoral work are forthcoming, though you can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’d be happy to share the findings as they emerge.
(Pictured above: part of my weekly commute to schools)