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Choosing a school: parental decision-making when special schools are an option

G. Mann, M. Cuskelly,

Academic Literature


Parental rights to choose a school are widely acknowledged. School choices for parents of children with disability have been discussed in the academic literature; however, the decision-making process itself is largely hidden. It is vital to understand parental decision-making around school choice more deeply, given the high regard with which this is viewed. Six focus groups were held in Queensland, Australia in 2013 to explore parental decision-making. Data were collected from 30 parents with children of different ages, some of whom were eligible for special school enrolment. Most parents felt constrained in choosing a school yet eager to make decisions themselves. Most described the process as rational. Findings suggest that when special school was an option, decision-making felt more restricted and complex. Factors such as difficulty accessing reliable information and pressure from professionals added to the complexity. It was concluded that final school selection did not reliably reflect parental preferences. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Disability and Society

Domain/s: Education

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