The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the impact of training on educational staff attitudes, sentiments, concerns and efficacy in providing support for children with Autism in mainstream settings.
The investigation adopted a pre-test/post-test, quasi-experimental, within-subject research design. In total, 35 early years educators, teachers and pupil support assistants from one Scottish Local Authority (LA) undertook training delivered by the LA’s Communication and Language Outreach Service. Measures included the Sentiments, Attitudes, and Concerns about Inclusive Education Revised (SACIE-R) scale and the teacher efficacy for inclusive practices (TEIP) scale pre and post-training. Post-training participants completed a questionnaire employing open and closed questions to assess perceived usefulness of training, application of knowledge and effectiveness of the teaching strategies.
Combining data from the three sectors there was a significant change in staff efficacy for inclusive practices (z=−3.406, p=0.001, p<0.05, with a medium effect size r=0.41) although there were differences between the sectors. There was a significant change in SACIE-R total scores (z=−3.945, p=0.000, p<0.05; with a medium effect size r=0.47), sentiments (z=−2.763, p=0.006, p<0.05; with a medium effect size r=0.33) and concerns (z=−3.685, p=0.000, p<0.05; with a medium effect size of r=0.44) subscale scores for the combined sector data. There was no significant change in the attitudes subscale scores for the combined sector data (z=−1.106, p=2.69, p>0.05; with a small effect size r=0.13) although there were differences between the sectors.
Limitations include: small sample size, minor differences in the training in different sectors, purposeful sampling, use of questionnaire post-training, variability of completion of SCAIE-R and TEIP post-training.
There appears to be limited research into inclusive practices for children with Autism in the UK context, which this study aims to address.