Perceptions of inclusive education: a mixed methods investigation of parental attitudes in three Australian primary schools

Lisa Stevens, Gerald Wurf

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Growing numbers of families now enrol their children in inclusive schools. The purpose of this research was to investigate the perceptions of 44 Australian parents, eight parents had children with disabilities and 36 had children who are typically developing. Data were collected using a questionnaire incorporating the Attitudes Towards Inclusion/Mainstreaming scale and a focus group for parents of children with disabilities. Parents all agreed that inclusive education benefits their children. Satisfaction with inclusion scores was similar and although parents of typically developing children expressed greater satisfaction, the difference was not significant. Parents of children with disabilities were significantly more likely to strongly agree that children have the right to inclusive education. Most parents felt that teachers are not well prepared to support the diverse range of students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms. Four themes identified in the focus group related to discrimination, frustration, restrictive practices, and programme quality. Parents valued well-coordinated, consistency delivered, and individualised educational programmes. Parents perceived resource allocation is not well targeted or transparent. Implications for teacher education and classroom practices are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-365
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • collaboration
  • Inclusive education
  • parents’ perceptions
  • professional development
  • school–family partnerships

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