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School counselors’ beliefs regarding collaboration with parents of students with special educational needs in Flanders: Parents as partners or opposites?

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Literature shows that good collaboration between the school and parents of students with special educational needs (SEN) is not always present. However, school counselors must collaborate with SEN students’ parents to organise guidance trajectories for their child. This study examines school counselors’ experiences when collaborating with parents of SEN students and the factors they perceive as contributing to good or difficult collaboration. Four focus groups in mainstream education (N = 50) and one focus group in special education (N = 14) were conducted in Flanders. A thematic analysis indicated that school counselors generally find it difficult to collaborate with parents of SEN students and that an expert attitude can emerge. The role of these parents is described as limited, which is even preferred by some school counselors. A deficit view is recognised and the reasons for poor collaboration are mainly situated on the parents’ side, such as parents that need more processing time to accept the SEN of their child and that show distrust towards the school. School counselors spontaneously referred to parents’ low socioeconomic and ethnic minority status as complicating factors for collaboration. They seem to feel incompetent to overcome these collaboration difficulties. Various recommendations for schools are formulated.
Journal: British Educational Research Journal
ISSN: 0141-1926
Issue: 3
Volume: 44
Pages: 419 - 439
Number of pages: 20
Publication year:2018