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DOI

10.14221/ajte.2014v39n10.1

Abstract

Inclusion of students with disabilities (SwD) in Australian health and physical education (HPE) classes is on the rise. Reasonable adjustment to assist inclusive practice is often accomplished through the use of teaching assistants, or paraprofessionals. While this practice is commonly understood within the classroom, this approach remains obscure in the HPE setting. The purpose of this study was to explore how Australian HPE teachers utilise paraprofessionals when teaching SwD in inclusive environments. HPE teachers (N=14) completed an online questionnaire inquiring how paraprofessionals are being used and the strategies they are using to develop working relationships with paraprofessionals. The HPE teachers in our sample generally had a favourable attitudes towards the paraprofessionals they have worked with, however a lack of appropriate training and HPE curriculum knowledge were highlighted as deficient areas that may have an adverse effect on the overall HPE environment. While the paraprofessionals were recognised as providing a level of support that was generally to the satisfaction of the HPE teachers, the HPE teachers’ consistently provided areas in which the paraprofessional could improve. Strategies to foster this collaborative working relationship were also investigated, and the primary finding dealt with adequate reciprocal communication. With the move toward inclusive practice in Australian public schools this is an area that warrants further investigation so all students can benefit from a healthy and productive HPE.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.14221/ajte.2014v39n10.1