The importance of peer-support for teaching staff when including children with special educational needs
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Policies of inclusion in schools now transcend national boundaries; but much less is known about how teachers interact best with each other in order to establish a successful inclusion environment. School psychologists cannot work in isolation and require being fully conversant with this perennially polemic topic. This article reports on a study in which 43 teachers in three secondary schools across one local authority in Scotland were interviewed on a range of topics related to inclusion. One of the important themes to emerge was the importance of peer-support within staff groups. It was found that teachers could still hold positive attitudes towards inclusion, even if the management team and heads of department within the same school were not regarded as being particularly supportive. Peer support was highlighted as a valuable component enabling teachers to feel that they were able successfully to include children with special needs. Moreover, the importance of peer support was perceived as superseding other support across the three high schools. Some implications for a possible role for school psychologists in helping to establish peer support networks for teachers are considered. © The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav.