The Transition of Children with Special Education Needs From Nursery and Special Education Centres to the first school year In UAE Schools
: Attitudes, Policies and Practices

  • Hanan Ali

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The transition of children from preschool to kindergarten is somehow similar to the first time children learn to go upstairs, where children are excited but afraid at the same time, looking for encouragement, perhaps a hand gently pushing them to hold the handrail and help them lift their feet off the ground with confidence until they can put it on the first stair, the children then realise they have succeeded and can continue to go up. In comparison, what would it be like for children with special needs in the same situation? Does the support of those around them depend on encouragement and a hand that gently pushes them, or do they need more than that!

    As a result of a lack of research on this topic, this exploratory study investigates the transition of children with special education needs from preschool to kindergarten through the experience of parents, teachers, and children. The theoretical framework is based on the ecological systems theory by Bronfenbrenner. Firstly, data were collected by questionnaires completed by preschool and kindergarten teachers as a first phase; the posttransition stage was investigated in two case studies conducted by two private schools in Abu Dhabi employing a mixed-method approach. Data was extracted from semi-structured interviews with children, teachers, and administrators, while parents' experiences were extracted from parent surveys. In addition, classroom observation and document reviews were conducted.

    Findings showed that despite efforts to provide appropriate inclusive education services in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the transition for children with special educational needs between different settings lacks adequate planning and coordination between the parties in the transition process. As a result, transition practices seem improvised and depend mainly on each school's policy. In addition, results indicate that teachers who receive students with special education needs face difficulties during the transition. These difficulties are caused by the lack of qualification, experience, and training in special education, which may affect the entire process. Finally, the study suggests that parents’ acceptance, transparency, and involvement play an essential role in facilitating the transition for children and their teachers. This study also provides recommendations for policy, practice, and future research. This study is considered one of the first studies that explored the transition to kindergarten from stakeholders’ point of view and could be the only study considering including children with SEN to the best of the researcher’s knowledge.
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBeth Hannah (Supervisor) & Mary Knight (Supervisor)


    • Transition
    • special education
    • ASN
    • SEND
    • Attitudes
    • Educational Policy
    • UAE

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