Collaborative practice is integral to effective inclusion. Within schools, teacher collaboration can foster communities of practice through a series of professional relationships that enhance the educational experience and learning outcomes of pupils with special educational needs (SEN). In Ireland, Learning Support Teachers (LSTs) and Resource Teachers (RTs) provide additional support to the increasing numbers of children with SEN in mainstream classrooms. Working alongside Classroom Teachers (CTs), this tripartite of teaching expertise represents an opportunity for whole-school and classroom-based approaches to successful collaborative, inclusive practice.This article describes the perceptions and experiences of collaborative practice between primary CTs, RTs and LSTs in a cohort of primary schools in the West of Ireland. Using a mixed methods approach, the study sought to establish the nature and extent of collaboration amongst these teachers and to identify the benefits and barriers to implementation.The findings suggest that whilst teachers are increasingly aware of the value of collaboration, its implementation is largely aspirational, with a series of challenges relating to time constraints, ad hoc planning and limited professional development opportunities most commonly identified as constraints to a consistent approach. The article considers the consequences of this shortfall and options for improved engagement between teachers are identified.
- teaching support
- special educational needs