Does mainstreaming work? Teachers’ perspectives on inclusive education
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AbstractThis paper presents the perspectives of teachers working in a vocational high school in Rome, considered a best practice for the success of its inclusion projects. The research adopted a phenomenological approach, according to which the focus of investigation is the study of subjective experience, and the comprehension of phenomena as they are lived and perceived by individuals. The research design was based on qualitative and participatory instruments such as in-depth interviews and field observations. Drawing mainly on data collected through interviews, the article describes teachers’ viewpoints about the factors and managerial choices that contribute to the excellent results of the institution in the area of inclusion. The results are presented referring to relevant national and international scientific contributions about inclusive education and the effects of mainstreaming. The findings clearly show how effective school inclusion requires both top down and bottom up actions in order to create a supportive culture. When this requirement is met, a high number and variety of special needs represents an opportunity for the teaching staff to develop skills and competence.