An exploration of arts teachers' beliefs and judgements concerning students with SEND

Beccy Thompson*, Carla Finesilver, Jane Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is little research addressing teachers' beliefs and judgements concerning students with identified Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND), a group which is regularly cited as experiencing disadvantages in their schooling compared to peers. This paper draws on research which examined the beliefs and judgements of a set of arts teachers in an English secondary school regarding their students with SEND. Data were collected using observation, semi-structured and stimulated recall interviews. Phenomenological analysis uncovered patterns of tension in these beliefs and judgements. Teachers were able to consider some of the interactions between their students' individual characteristics and the classroom environment, and the ways these might give rise to certain educational needs; they also believed their subjects were singularly inclusive in providing for diverse needs. Nonetheless, traditional systems of educational assessment significantly affected what is judged ‘successful’ learning, which teachers tended to negatively associate with SEND. We conclude that deficit thinking about the educational capacities of students with SEND underlies teachers' judgements. Nevertheless, teachers do believe there are many ways for students to participate meaningfully, articulate and demonstrate understanding in arts subjects, which have the potential to challenge traditional notions of ‘success’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
JournalSupport for Learning
Issue number2
Early online date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023


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