Essay Writing Service

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Labelling Pupils with Additional Support Needs: Perceptions of Teachers in a Mainstream Primary School Setting

do not necessarily reflect the views of

Labelling Pupils with Additional Support Needs:

An Exploration of the Perceptions of Teachers in a Mainstream Primary School Setting



Curriculum for Excellence: The Scottish national curriculum with the purpose of enabling pupils to develop the four capacities of becoming Successful Learners; Confident Individuals; Responsible Citizens; and Effective Contributors (Scottish Executive, 2006a).

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC): A Scottish approach that has been national policy since 2010. This is a framework which helps provide services and support to children and young people to maintain their rights and improve their wellbeing (Scottish Government, 2018a).

Inclusion: The practice of education where all children and young people are supported to gain access and opportunities provided by Curriculum for Excellence and participate fully in education regardless of race, gender, age, disability, religion or belief, and sexual orientation (Education Scotland, 2018).

Labelling: The process of applying a descriptor given by medical professionals to people with disorders, disabilities and handicaps, (i.e. a medical diagnosis) (Hardman, et al 1999).

Mainstream Schools: Schools which do not solely provide education for pupils with Additional Support Needs (Scottish Government, 2007).

Pupil Support Assistants (PSAs): School staff who assist the teacher in educating pupils. Formerly known as ‘Teaching Assistants’ (Open University, 2018).

Pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN): Pupils that have been identified as requiring supplementary assistance in accessing the curriculum to achieve their full potential (Scottish Government, 2010).



Introduction and Background to the Study

In 2018, where more than a quarter of the pupils in a Scottish mainstream primary class are identified as having Additional Support Needs, the controversial topic of labelling has never been more important (Scottish Government, 2017a). Since the turn of the century, the number of pupils with ASN in mainstream classes has dramatically increased from 2.1% to 26.6% (Scottish Executive 2006b; Scottish Government, 2017a).

This is, in part, is due to Scottish legislation from 2000 which stated that, unless a child has “exceptional circumstances”, it is a requirement for all pupils to be educated within mainstream schools (Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000: 7). This was implemented due to debates at the time surrounding the importance of inclusion and the rights of the child regardless of Additional Support Needs. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 stated that:

Education authorities must: make adequate and efficient provision for the additional support required for each child or young person with additional support needs for whose school education they are responsible, subject to certain exceptions; make arrangements to identify additional support needs; keep under consideration the additional support needs identified and the adequacy of support provided to meet the needs of each child or young person (2004: 2).

By 2010, the Getting it Right for Every Child approach was accepted by all Scottish service agencies in an effort to provide the appropriate services and resources to every child who requires them (Scottish Government, 2017b). The Curriculum for Excellence was also implemented during 2010. This new curriculum developed areas to ensure mainstream schools offered a variety of opportunities to allow pupils to meet their optimum potential on their journey of lifelong learning (Scottish Executive, 2006a).

The previous statistic, that the number of pupils with Additional Support Needs in mainstream classes has increased by 24.5% in the last 18 years, cannot solely be a result of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 requiring mainstream schooling. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 altered the terminology from ‘Special Educational Need’ to ‘Additional Support Need’ which as a result encompassed many children who were not previously understood to be a child with a ‘Special Educational Need’. Therefore, the 2000 statistic of 2.1% only considered pupils with specific learning needs, whereas the most recent 26.6% statistic included pupils with varying needs such as “factors [relating] to social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, disability, or family and care circumstances” (Scottish Government, 2008: 1). It has also been considered by the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition that there perhaps was not an increase in pupils with Additional Support Needs but rather an increase in the recognition and awareness of these ASN resulting in more medical diagnoses (Hepburn, 2014).

Irrespective of whether this increase of pupils with ASN in mainstream classes has derived from inclusion legislations or more awareness of ASN and diagnoses, it is undeniable that these pupils require support in order to achieve their full potential.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative research project is to examine and present teachers’ perspectives as to whether the labelling of pupils with Additional Support Needs is helpful in a mainstream primary school setting. The following two objectives are explored:

  1. The extent to which labelling a pupil with Additional Support Needs impacts upon the teacher strategies used whilst teaching
  2. To understand more about why teachers are for/against labelling pupils with Additional Support Needs.

This study anticipates examining the affect that labelling has on the mainstream primary school teacher’s ability to effectively support pupils with ASN. The Additional Support Needs explored will hereby only refer to ASN arising from “disability and health needs” which include – but is not limited to – Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Specific Language Impairment (The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004).

Having conducted a small-scale research project, this will solely consider the affects labelling has on teaching strategies and will therefore not include other factors such as social and emotional issues associated with labelling a pupil with an ASN.

Rationale for the Study

The researcher’s rationale for this study was to develop her own understanding of this area prior to the commencement of her teaching career. She believes that having the knowledge and comprehension of how to best support pupils with ASN is a vital feature of becoming an effective educator for all pupils. Alongside the objectives identified in the Purpose of the Study, the researcher aimed to further understand how current mainstream teachers support pupils who are experiencing challenges, both antecedent and subsequent to receiving a label of an Additional Support Need.

Significance of the Study

In this current educational climate of promoting inclusive education and the continuous increase of pupils with ASN, the need for knowledge surrounding how to best support all pupils is essential. Although these pupils are being physically included in mainstream schooling, does this fully represent what true inclusion encompasses? Professor Lani Florian from The University of Edinburgh states that the “type of school is not the issue – the issue is about the quality of the child’s education” (2018: 1). This project adds to the present body of research in the area of Education for a fuller insight into current teachers thinking and the challenges that prevail for both the teacher and the pupil in a 2018 mainstream classroom setting.


There are many scholars that have extensively researched the effects of labelling on pupils with Additional Support Needs. Merely enquiring if labels are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ does not contain a strong debate on why they are used (Boyle, 2013). Educators have a duty to effectively develop the learning of all their pupils and ASN ought to be viewed as though they are “problems for teachers to solve rather than problems within learners” (Florian & Linklater, 2010: 371). Therefore, this section of the research project will draw from a variety of different literature available in an attempt to gain greater insight into how labelling impacts the teaching and learning within a mainstream primary school class.

Benefits of Labelling

Many pupils with Additional Support Needs will require supplementary resources used in their learning to be able to achieve the same learning opportunities as those without ASN. This could range from the school having access to ‘teaching packs’ and advice given by specialists to the allocations of Pupil Support Assistants (PSAs) for 1:1 support within the classroom. Many scholars have claimed that labelling a pupil with an Additional Support Need will result in access to funding and therefore access to resources from the relevant services (Norwich, 1999; Lauchlan & Boyle, 2007; Blum & Bakken, 2010; Boyle, 2013). It has been argued that without a label and the provisions given as a result of the label, teachers will not be providing a fair education to the child in a system which promotes equity (Norwich, 1999). The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 states that for children with ASN to receive an appropriate education they require the access to the correct support and services which will help them. In a study conducted by Hastings and Remington (1993), it was found that when questioning students with ASN they recognised that without the use of labels they would not have been able to receive the support suitable for them. Boyle states that “it would be senseless not to label a child … if that meant that there could be no access to services for the person and the family that required it.” (Boyle, 2013: 7).

Labelling has been seen to have the dual-purpose of receiving extra support as well as helping to identify possible features associated with that diagnosis. This means that labelling can “open gates” for pupils with ASN, including enabling the teachers to acquire the knowledge about the characteristics of a specific ASN in order to adapt their teaching and learning accordingly (Sutcliffe & Simons, 1993: 23). Lauchlan and Boyle (2007) delineates this aptly when suggesting that a label of Asperger Syndrome could result in the addition of daily routines and structure, and five-minute time signals to help with transitioning issues. A label can therefore help inform the teacher of difficulties the pupil may be experiencing and strategies they could implement to enhance the pupil’s learning experience.

Drawbacks of Labelling

Blum and Bakken believe that “sometimes the labels are useful generalizations; sometimes they are harmful stereotypes” (2010: 116). They researched that some teachers make assumptions that pupils will be unable to undergo certain tasks or activities based on their label (Blum & Bakken, 2010). This means that a label of an ASN may result in the teacher having pre-conceived ideas about the intellectual abilities of that child instead of finding strategies to support them in achieving these learning opportunities.

Some scholars argue that having knowledge about ASN allows teachers to stereotype pupils and therefore fail to understand the pupil on an individual level (Lauchlan & Boyle, 2007; Blum & Bakken, 2010; Boyle, 2013). Boyle argues that “overuse of labels depersonalises the individuality of each person who receives a label. There is no negative label for individuality” (2013: 3). Labelling a child with an Additional Support Need categorises them and may not reflect their true individual characteristics. All pupils, with and without labels, are unique and have different strengthens and weaknesses which should be catered for throughout their education.

Teachers must interact and have dialogue with their pupils as a basic form of gaining knowledge of the child: labels are often used as a substitute for this (Kliewer & Biklen, 1996). In order to be an effective teacher, the educator must allow time to understand the needs of all the pupils in their class: having a pupil with the label of an ASN may mean some teachers presume inaccurate aspects of the child without undergoing the process of inquiring with them to have greater insight into the child’s specific requirements.


Insignificance of Labelling

It is argued that there is no proven link between labels of ASN and the essential supports that pupils with these ASN are provided with (Norwich, 1999). This suggests that although there are similarities in characteristics between two people with the same ASN label, they may require very different support and resources to enhance their learning. This relates to the well-known quote by Stephen Shore which states “if you’ve met one person with Autism; you’ve met one person with Autism” (as cited by Lowry, 2015: 1). It is more important to focus on attempting to deliver the correct teaching and learning strategies catered to the individuals receiving them.

The Scottish Government states that educators should support all pupils to reach their full potential (Scottish Executive, 2006a: 1). In order to achieve their objective, teachers ought to have an insight into the individual learners needs, regardless of a label. Effective educators will adapt their teaching and learning strategies to account for the large variety of needs of their pupils. Therefore, educators should be making adjustments for children who are facing difficulties within their learning, irrespective of whether they are identified to have an ASN (Norwich, 1999; Boyle, 2013). Florian & Linklater explain that appropriate teaching incorporates “the creation of a rich learning environment characterised by lesson and learning opportunities that are sufficiently made available to everyone so that all are able to participate in classroom life” (2010: 370). This allows all pupils, compared to most, the access to the same educational opportunities.

The Scottish Government acknowledge that “all children and young people are different” and therefore educators should be catering to the vast array of needs included within a mainstream class (2018b: 1). Most educators are determined to help support all their pupils. In a 2003 case where a former-pupil claimed for compensation due to the school failing to identify him as having dyslexia, the council rejected responsibility for any negative implications caused due to not receiving a dyslexia label as it was found that the school implemented all the appropriate support and strategies to aid him in his education (The Telegraph, 2004: 1). This example supports the argument that a label is not required for pupils to receive the appropriate educational opportunities if educators have knowledge and understanding on how to best support pupils with difficulties they are facing.

Ogilvy (1994) argues that even when pupils are given a label of an Additional Support Need they do not receive the required support from the appropriate services. Often a label is used to explain behaviours and characteristics without providing the school and teachers the resources they need to sufficiently educate the pupil (Lauchlan & Boyle, 2007). This could be due to an issue of lack of funding from the Government to the authorities and ASN services and therefore there is no means of allocating more Pupil Support Assistants or other resources to these pupils.




The intellectual abilities displayed by pupils with Additional Support Needs are influenced by their teachers and the teaching strategies they use within the classroom (Alexander & Strain, 1978). Therefore, the researcher aimed to use this project to gain a greater insight into the opinions of teachers and how effective labels are in allowing pupils to achieve the most appropriate education for them. The researcher chose to use a qualitative interpretative approach for this research project as it appeared to be the most suitable when examining people’s feelings and ideas (Elliot & Timulak, 2005).

The researcher chose to carry out interviews to collect data rather than questionnaires for a variety of reasons. This was to confirm that the questions and the answers were understood by both the interviewee and the interviewer (Oppenheim, 2005). This would also ensure that all the questions were answered thoroughly, with the use of ‘follow-up’ questions where necessary.

Research Questions

The perceptions of mainstream primary school teachers were examined through the use of interviews. The researcher adopted a ‘respondent interview’ technique whereby she asked a set of questions in a tight structure which was followed by the interviewee (Powney and Watts, 1987). The researcher prepared a combination of both open and closed questions: seven compulsory questions, combined with four follow-up questions used to ‘prompt’ the interviewee into further discussion (Oppenheim, 2005).

  1. What are your views regarding labelling children with an Additional Support Need?
    1. Prompt: Can you explain why or say a bit more about what has informed this view?
  2. How well supported do you feel in teaching children who are suspected to have an Additional Support Need before they are given a formal diagnosis?
  3. Do you think it is helpful, for both teachers and the pupil, to label a child with a diagnosis?
    1. Prompt: Why do you think this?
  4. Do you alter your teaching and learning strategies in any way following a pupil’s diagnosis?
    1. Prompt: What were you doing before a diagnosis compared to after?
  5. Is there an impact of a diagnosis in terms of the support from schools or local authorities you receive?
    1. Prompt: Are you better supported by Support for Learning, educational psychologists or other relevant professionals on how to include this child in your class as a result of a formal diagnosis?
  6. How complex, or otherwise, do you think it is to decide upon appropriate classroom strategies for children who are experiencing learning difficulties before they are given a formal diagnosis?
  7. What would be helpful before and after a child’s diagnosis in terms of your attempts to maintain an inclusive classroom?


The researcher used the purposive sampling technique of Total Population Sampling in order to avoid sampling bias and with the aim of gaining an insight into the perceptions of teachers at all stages in the primary school (Etikan, Musa & Alkassim, 2016). This included all eleven professionals who were directly teaching at her Professional Experience and Practice placement school within the City of Edinburgh, Scotland. Seven of these teachers gave consent to be interviewed for this research project. Each of these teachers were fully qualified educators with at least three years of teaching experience. Their current classes for the academic year 2017/2018 had a minimum of 18 pupils which included at least one child that had a label of an Additional Support Need. Four are currently teachers in early years classes (Primary 1 – Primary 2); two are teachers in middle years classes (Primary 3 – Primary 5); and one teacher is a teacher in the upper primary school classes (Primary 6 – Primary 7).

Role of the Researcher

The researcher obtained permission from the University of Edinburgh to conduct the study of teachers’ perceptions of labelling pupils with Additional Support Needs. Once this permission was granted, the researcher asked for consent from the Head Teacher from the researcher’s Professional Experience and Practice placement school to carry out this study within their school, interviewing their teachers. It was stated to each teacher the aims and procedures involved in the research project. Each teacher was informed that the study was entirely voluntary, and they could withdraw at any time without giving a reason. They were also informed that each interview would be kept confidential and the data would be securely and anonymously stored.

In this study, the researcher’s role was to collect data through individual interviews and analyse the data gathered through systematic steps. The fact that the researcher is studying to become a primary school teacher may affect the degree of reliability. The researcher has a personal perception of the world of the teacher and has experience of teaching children, in a mainstream school, who have Additional Support Needs. As this is difficult to ignore, the researcher may unintentionally be disposed to self-fulfilling prophecies (Powney & Watts, 1987). Therefore, self-monitoring and an acknowledgement of the above was given much consideration before setting out for each interview.

Data Collection Procedure

Interviews with each of the seven participants were located within the teacher’s own classrooms during February 2018. The researcher arrived prepared with an audio recorder and an interview script (an introduction to the study and the pre-set questions). It took the form of a ‘formal’ to ‘less formal’ interview where the researcher had set questions to be asked (‘formal’) with the option of follow-up questions to be asked where required (‘less formal’) (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2000).

The interviews were audio recorded and then transcribed verbatim. The use of audio recording allowed the researcher the ability to replay the data several times in order for the material to be studied thoroughly. The researcher did not take notes throughout the interview to reduce interviewer bias affecting objectivity and analysis. This also allowed the interviewee not to be distracted and created a more informal interaction.

Data Analysis

The data analysis of this qualitative research study was based on a grounded theory approach. This followed a systematic design of the three stages of coding: open coding; axial coding; and selective coding (Creswell, 2012). The initial stage of open coding included attempts to find categories arising from the findings. Axial coding allowed the researcher to identify the central ideas and consisted of exploring these ideas to offer actions, strategies and consequences. Selective coding was the process of constructing a story from the interrelationships between these categories and included constructing a hypothesis from this data. This systematic approach allowed the researcher to identify patterns, themes and relationships from the data to present an analysis exploring the perceptions of mainstream primary school teachers on labelling pupils with Additional Support Needs.

Ethical Issues

The researcher read and understood the Ethical Guidelines for Education Research before commencing the study (British Educational Research Association, 2011). The Head Teacher of the researcher’s Professional Experience and Practice placement school was given an information and consent form stating the purposes and procedures of the study and asking for permission to undertake this research project within the school (see Appendix A). It was stated that the Head Teacher had the right to withdraw from the project at any time without giving a reason. All teaching professionals were given a similar form upon receiving consent from the Head Teacher (see Appendix B). This also informed the teachers that the study was entirely voluntary and that they, too, were free to withdraw from the study at any time without giving a reason. Both forms stressed that all information gained from the teachers would be kept confidential. Participant’s names were removed from the data and will hereby be referred to by an alias of Teacher 1 – Teacher 7. All real names spoken by participants, including those of colleagues and pupils were removed. All data was stored electronically and anonymously on the researcher’s personal computer. This information will remain on the computer, password protected, for the recommended one year before permanent deletion. The researcher and the researcher’s supervisor are the sole individuals whom have access to the raw data.


At this stage, it seems appropriate to restate that the purpose of this research project was to explore the following two objectives:

  1. The extent to which labelling a pupil with Additional Support Needs impacts upon the teacher strategies used whilst teaching
  2. To understand more about why teachers are for/against labelling pupils with Additional Support Needs.

The researcher used a systematic approach when analysing the data collected from interviews with seven mainstream primary school teachers. The issues that were discussed by the teachers included that a label was needed to understand the child, and access resources and support; some teachers focussed too much on the label; there was a lack of assistance from out with the school after a diagnosis; support given to the child was dependant on the experience of the teacher; and some strategies were implemented prior to a diagnosis. The categories therefore identified and will be discussed by the researcher are as follows:

Theme 1:  Understanding the Child

Theme 2:  Resources and Support

Theme 3:  Focussing on the Label

Theme 4:  Lack of Assistance

Theme 5: Experience of the Teacher

Theme 6:  Changes before Diagnosis

Theme 1: Resources and Support

All seven of the participants stated that having a label of an Additional Support Need meant that there would be more access to resources and support from the local authority and other services out with the school.

Teacher 1: Usually the formal diagnosis is what triggers the support: the school can then apply for funding or whatever to get additional support.

Teacher 2:  It’s probably easier for you to know that a child has a specific diagnosis and you can, kind of, take steps to address that for them, and if that’s getting them support.

Teacher 3: If there is a diagnosis in place, the council and local authority are going to do more about it … I think having a label for local authorities because then they’re more inclined to do more about it.

Teacher 4: I would hope it would help me in a positive way because then I would be fighting for more resources and more support.

Teacher 5: Without that label you’ve got nothing. You can’t say ‘well I think they might have it’. You know you’re not going to get the support for it.

Teacher 6:  There is a difference at local authority level definitely.

Teacher 7:  It’s really beneficial for the kids because they can get the support, extra time, time out of class, and things like that.

The support that teachers receive in helping these pupils can be from professionals such as Occupational Therapists, Educational Psychologists, or specialists in Support for Learning.

Teacher 1: I would be listening to different professionals to get advice on whether that should be communicated and how it should be communicated and what the intervention should be for that disability.

Teacher 2:  Once they get a firm diagnosis, you get other agencies involved … You might have other people that have ideas on how to do things.

Teacher 3:  It’s useful to have a label … to liaise with other professionals to talk about what other supports to put in place and how best to help them.

This support can also include receiving extra funding for hours with Pupil Support Assistants.

Teacher 1:  There could be funding too for other adults to support that child.

Teacher 2: It’ll get them hours for extra support.

Teacher 5: I’ve got one child in class and because there’s been a diagnosis he has now … been given 20 hours for him.

Teacher 6: Once you’ve got the diagnosis … you can access more specific support and specific 1:1 contact time and hours for a PSA.


Theme 2: Understanding the Child

Some of the participants felt that having a label of an Additional Support Need meant that they were able to understand the child more.

Teacher 1:  I think that sometimes it’s helpful to know a child has been diagnosed with a particular type of learning difficulty or impairment like Autism or ADHD because then you can understand the characteristics of that disability.

Teacher 5:  It explains to me their behaviour, so I can think to myself, it’s not just challenging behaviour, they’re behaving like that because of ASD or they’re behaving like that because they’ve got ADHD.

Four of the teachers thought that understanding the child more can then help identify the potential characteristics or needs of this child and then implement the appropriate teaching and learning strategies for those needs.

Teacher 1: You can understand … how to best support it, what resources to put in place and you can do some research accordingly to develop your own understand of that … It’s really just a way of understanding … are they over stimulated … do they find communication and comprehension difficult

Teacher 2: You can put your different strategies in place, and then for a child if they’re ASD they need their routine.

Teacher 5: If you know a child’s got ASD, you can prepare for that. If you know a child’s dyslexic, you can help them with other strategies that they need to use

Teacher 7: Its good for us to know what the issues are so that we can put things in place for the child.

Theme 3: Focussing on the Label

Three of these teachers felt that having a child labelled with an ASN could result in the teacher focussing too much on the diagnosis.

Teacher 1:  It might give people around them the feeling that they’re incapable of certain things and causes a kind of stigma with that child.

Teacher 4: I just think that if they’re told that they’ve got … [an ASN] … that’s what everyone focusses on and they don’t look or get to know the real child

Teacher 7: I just think we have to be careful not to only think of the child in those terms … maybe that’s at the forefront of everyone’s minds when they think about that child. So I do think it’s really important to see beneath the disability.

Theme 4: Lack of Assistance

Five out of the seven participants thought that they should have been receiving more support from out with the school after a diagnosis.

Teacher 2: I think there’s probably not as much support as there should be from beyond the school … it just seems like it’s a fight all the time to get the support that you need once you really need it.

Teacher 4:  I just feel that the authority should be doing more … in the nitty-gritty of a classroom there’s not a lot of support.

Teacher 5:  Even once they’re given a diagnosis there might be no support given.

Teacher 7: I think it could do with being more.

The teachers main concern was that they were not receiving more hours with Pupil Support Assistants following a diagnosis to support the child or help implement resources.

Teacher 2:  I think it comes down to there being more funding for extra people in the classroom because it’s not enjoyable for a child … More bodies in the classroom is really what you want

Teacher 4: I just feel that the authority could be doing more for sure. I know it’s all

Teacher 5:  The OT might come in … and they’ll just give you resources … with no extra people to help you implement it … you’re just expected to get on and do it. So the support, I suppose, it’s not really support … it’s not manageable unless you’re getting and extra person in with you.

Teacher 6: Unless you have the people, you’re putting out fires where another one comes up. You’re fighting a losing battle … The constant reduction and negotiation of the importance of the Pupil Support Assistants is really demoralising … a lot of it is dependant on having people to deliver some of those supports, to be there to step in when it’s needed.

Several of these teachers felt that the support that was given was inconsistent.

Teacher 2: It is really hard to get hours for a child now, I think you have to have a very specific diagnosis that they’ll get allocated hours.

Teacher 5:  It’s inconsistent. Some children get the support and some children don’t … if it’s an inclusive education system, it need to be inclusive for all … that’s not fair.

Theme 5: Experience of the Teacher

Most of the teachers felt that supporting pupils who are suspected to have ASN is less complex when you have been a teacher for many years.

Teacher 1:  I think as a teacher becomes more experienced that process [of differentiation] might become more effective over time, but it’s always challenging.

Teacher 3: I guess it maybe depends on how much you know about it. So if you’ve maybe taught children with that diagnosis before, It might not be as complex.

Teacher 4: For older teachers that have had lots of experience of that it would be easier for them, maybe. Easier in some ways because they know what they could do to help them. But yeah, I think it’s really challenging for young teachers.

Teacher 5:  I think if you’re inexperienced it’s difficult because you’ve nothing to base it on … there’s not many behaviours that an experienced teacher will not have come across. They will have come across a big range.

Teacher 7:  I suppose because I’ve been a teacher for a wee while you kind of get used to the varying needs and different extremes.


Theme 6: Changes before Diagnosis

Almost all of the participants stated that they would have made changes to their teaching and learning strategies before a diagnosis is given.

Teacher 1:  I wouldn’t necessarily be changing things because of a diagnosis, I would be seeing that a child would have needs before that.

Teacher 2:  I think a lot of the time, by the time you get to a diagnosis you already have a lot of strategies in place, so it would be before you get a diagnosis that things would be altered.

Teacher 3: I guess you might have already been altering them in some way before if you have been suspecting them.

Teacher 5:  I mean way before they’re diagnosed teacher put things into place to help them.

Teacher 6:  It’s always come where the strategies have been tried out and put in place before … I’ll always try to have met the needs of the child before a diagnosis or a term is given to a child anyway.

Teacher 7:  I try to support as much as possible [before a diagnosis].

Several of the teachers believe that there are many different learning styles that need to be catered for within a class, and not just those diagnosed with ASN.

Teacher 1:  There could be a range of learning needs and abilities within that class. It’s the skill of the teacher to appropriately differentiate in order to meet all learners needs given the resources and different constraints and to ensure the meeting of all the design principles in the most effective way.

Teacher 6:  You could label just about every child in the class with something.

Teacher 7: I suppose within a class every child will have different learning styles, every child will have different learning needs in a way … you are thinking of a lot of separate children and a lot of separate needs at the one time.


Many of the teachers felt as thought they were trying to understand the child individually to give them the support that is personalised to their needs, before a diagnosis is given.

Teacher 1:  I think for any effective practitioner the learning and teaching environment should be designed to optimise the engagement and to ensure that the learning needs are being met as fully as possible.

Teacher 4:  You need to get to know the child first before any labels

Teacher 5: We’ve got a child that’s going through the process of being diagnosed, and we have ‘Now’ and ‘Next’ thing going on, and that works for him.

Teacher 6:  Every child is different and people who are on the Autism Spectrum, there are no two who are the same. So what works for one child, might not work for another.

Teacher 7: Some of the methods you might try might not work to begin with so there’s a wee bit trial and error to begin with as well. And eventually, as you really get to know the child, they get to know you, you find a way, find a routine, find resources and things that might help.








Recommendations for Future Research


Alexander, C. & Strain, P. (1978) A review of educators’ attitudes toward handicappedchildren and the concept of mainstreaming. Psychology in the Schools, 15, 390–396.

Blum, C. & Bakken, J. P. (2010) Labeling of students with disabilities: Unwanted and not needed. In F. E. Obiakor, J. P. Bakken, A. F. Rotatori (Eds.) Current Issues and Trends in Special Education: Identification, Assessment and Instruction (Advances in Special Education, Volume 19) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 115–125.

Boyle, C. (2013) Labelling in Special Education: Where do the benefits lie? In A. Holliman (Ed.) Educational Psychology: An International Perspective. London: Routledge, pp. 1–17.

British Educational Research Association (2011) Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research. London: British Educational Research Association

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education (5th Edition), London: Routledge.

Creswell, J. W. (2012) Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th Edition), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Education Scotland (2018) Support for all [Online] Available: [Accessed 16 March 2018].

Elliot, R. & Timulak, L. (2005) Descriptive and Interpretive approaches to Qualitative Research. In P. Gilbert & J. Miles (Eds.) A Handbook of Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 147–159.

Etikan, I., Musa, S. A., & Alkassim, R. S. (2016) Comparison of Convenience Sampling and Purposive Sampling. American Journal of Theoretical and Applied Statistics, 5 (1), 1–4.

Florian, L. (2018) On the presumption of mainstreaming [Online] Available: [Accessed 19 March 2018].

Florian, L. & Linklater, H. (2010) Preparing teachers for inclusive education: using inclusive pedagogy to enhance teaching and learning for all. Cambridge Journal of Education, 40 (4), 369–386.

Hardman, M. L., Drew, C. J. & Egan, M. W. (1999). Human Exceptionality: Society, School, and Family. London: Allyn and Bacon.

Hastings, R. & Remington, B. (1993) Connotations of labels for mental handicap and challenging behaviour: a review and research evaluation, Mental Handicap Research, 6 (3), 237–249

Hepburn, H. (2014) Additional Support Needs – ASN crisis looms as numbers double: News. The Times Educational Supplement Scotland, iss. 2349, pp. 6.

Kliewer, C. & Biklen, D. (1996) Labeling: Who wants to be called retarded? In W. Stainback and S. Stainback (Eds.) Controversial issues confronting special education: Divergent perspectives. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, pp 83–95

Lauchlan, F. & Boyle, C. (2007) Is the use of labels in special education helpful? Support for Learning Journal, 22 (1), 36–42.

Lowry, L. (2015) Which Children with Autism Develop Better Communication Skills? [Online] Available: [Accessed 8 April 2018]

Norwich, B. (1999) The connotation of special education labels for professionals in the field. British Journal of Special Education, 25 (4), 179–183.

Ogilvy, C. M. (1994) What is the diagnostic significance of specific learning difficulties? School Psychology International, 15 (1), 55–68.

Open University (2018) The role of the teaching assistant. [Online] Available: [Accessed 16 March 2018]

Oppenheim, A. N. (2005) Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement. New York: Continuum Books.

Powney, J. & Watts, M. (1987) Interviewing in Educational Research. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.

Scottish Executive (2006a) A Curriculum for Excellence: building the curriculum 3-18 (1). Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Executive (2006b) Literature Review of Educational Provision for Pupils with Additional Support Needs. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Executive (2010) Supporting Children’s Learning: Code of Practice (Revised edition). Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government (2007) Glossary of terms relating to mainstream and specialist educational provision [Online] Available: [Accessed 16 March 2018].

Scottish Government (2008) Summary of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 [Online] Available: [Accessed 23 March 2018].

Scottish Government (2017a) Summary statistics for schools in Scotland no. 8: 2017 edition [Online] Available: [Accessed 18 March 2018].

Scottish Government (2017b) Where did GIRFEC come from? [Online] Available: [Accessed 20 March 2018].

Scottish Government (2018a) Getting it right for every children (GIRFEC) [Online] Available: [Accessed 16 March 2018].

Scottish Government (2018b) Additional Support for Learning [Online] Available: [Accessed 4 April 2018]

Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 [Online] Available: [Accessed 18 March 2018].

Sutcliffe, J. & Simons, K. (1993) Self Advocacy and People with Learning Difficulties. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 March 2018].

The Telegraph (2004) £500,000 claim by dyslexic ‘teachers’ failed to spot’ [Online] Available: [Accessed 8 April 2018]

EssayHub’s Community of Professional Tutors & Editors
Tutoring Service, EssayHub
Professional Essay Writers for Hire
Essay Writing Service, EssayPro
Professional Custom
Professional Custom Essay Writing Services
In need of qualified essay help online or professional assistance with your research paper?
Browsing the web for a reliable custom writing service to give you a hand with college assignment?
Out of time and require quick and moreover effective support with your term paper or dissertation?
Did you find someone who can help?

Fast, Quality and Secure Essay Writing Help 24/7!