Evidence of outcomes
Benefits of education
Rynders and his colleagues in Minnesota have been working
to improve the educational outcomes for children with Down syndrome for more than
30 years. In a 1990 paper, they challenged the view that children with Down syndrome
were largely considered 'trainable' rather than 'educable', publishing data illustrating
the educational achievements of young people in their research studies. In 1997,
they published a further paper combining data on 171 children with Down syndrome
from several longitudinal and cross-sectional studies. They emphasise that their
data illustrates that the majority of children have gained some competence in literacy
and numeracy skills, justifying an academic curriculum, and that most students are
making steady progress throughout their teenage years.[6,8]
There have also been a number of papers reporting on the
progress of a cohort of young people with Down syndrome in Australia from their
progress in an early intervention programme through to adult life, indicating that
those accessing an academic curriculum in inclusive settings have achieved greater
progress in academic skills such as reading and number.[9,18]
Inclusion research to 1997
- The few available studies show gains in academic skills from accessing
the curriculum with support in mainstream classrooms.
- No evidence of specific benefits of education in special schools in
- These studies do not consider research on self-esteem, social relationships
While there has been a steady increase in the number of
children with Down syndrome in inclusive placements, there has only been limited
planned research evaluation of the outcomes to date. In a recent review,
Cunningham and colleagues documented the trends in inclusion and evidence of outcomes.
They identified only 4 outcome studies at that time that met their criteria for
rigorous research: 3 in the United Kingdom[19-21]
and one from the United States of America.
Recent review paper
Cunningham and colleagues conclude from their review
that the available evidence is sparse but it does indicate that academic attainments
are higher for children with Down syndrome in mainstream placements and that levels
of self-sufficiency are similar to those attained in special schools. In their review,
they point out that there is actually no evidence of specific benefits of education
in special schools in the United Kingdom, despite specialist teachers, smaller classes
and additional resources.
However, this review also points out that at that time,
there was no research on the effects of school placement on self-esteem, social
relationships and happiness. It is possible that life in a mainstream school could
adversely affect self-esteem and that reciprocal, mutually supportive social relationships
between pupils would be more difficult for the pupil with Down syndrome in a mainstream
setting. There is now some evidence on these issues from the Hampshire studies,
conducted by the authors and their colleagues, which are summarised below.[23,25-27,31]
Since the Cunningham review
was published there have been three other United Kingdom studies,[24,28,29]
which evaluate aspects of inclusion in comparison with special school placement.
Their findings are discussed below.
The Hampshire studies of inclusion
The Hampshire studies provide the most extensive database
currently available on inclusion for children with Down syndrome and on outcomes
from special education. The studies span a 14 year period and are the result of
continuous research collaboration between the Psychology Department of the University
of Portsmouth and Down Syndrome Education International during that time.
Two main studies
In 1986 information was collected on all aspects of the
development and educational progress of 90 teenagers with Down syndrome (11 to 18
year olds). At this time all the teenagers were being educated in special schools,
with 95 (94%) in schools for children with severe learning difficulties (SLD) and
5 (6%) in schools for children with moderate learning difficulties (MLD).
In 1999, 46 families in Hampshire with teenage children with Down syndrome (11 to
20 years) took part in a similar study. Twenty eight (61%) of the teenagers were
being educated in special schools (24 in Severe Learning Difficulties and 4 in Moderate
Learning Difficulties) and 18 (39%) in local mainstream secondary schools (and fully
included in mainstream for all or most of their education).
The data from these two studies allows three questions
to be addressed:-
- Are teenagers in special schools progressing faster in 1999 than in 1986,
given the availability of more knowledge of the children's specific special
educational needs and positive changes in social attitudes to disability in
- Are teenagers in mainstream schools in 1999 progressing faster than the
teenagers in 1986?
- Are the teenagers included in mainstream schools in 1999 showing any benefits
or disadvantages of inclusion when compared to their peers in special schools
In this module it is only appropriate to provide a summary
of the main findings of this research. The reader wishing to review more detailed
information is referred to articles discussing the research in more depth.[27,31]
Some of the information collected on specific skills and abilities is included in
other modules as appropriate (e.g. reading and numeracy achievements).
The studies in 1986 and 1999 measured developmental progress
relevant to education under several headings:
Hampshire studies: Measures
- Daily living skills
- Communication skills
- Academic skills
- Social skills
- Daily living skills - personal care skills such as independence
in dressing, bathing, toileting and at mealtimes.
- Communication skills - understanding and using spoken and/or
- Academic skills - reading, writing, arithmetic, money and
- Social skills - social independence outside the home (crossing
roads, using buses etc), social contacts (social activities outside school time)
and leisure interests.
- Behaviour - difficult or unusual behaviours.
In 1999, the same areas of development were assessed using
the same measures as in 1986, but in addition, two other standardised measures of
development and behaviour in all these areas were included to allow comparison with
studies elsewhere in the world (The Vineland Scale of Adaptive Behaviour and The
Connors Parent Rating Scales). The main findings will be discussed in relation to
each area of development.
Hampshire studies: Group comparisons
- 1986 and 1999 teenagers in special schools.
- 1999 teenagers in mainstream schools and 1986 teenagers (who were all
in special schools).
- 1999 teenagers in special school and 1999 teenagers in mainstream schools.
In the main, the comparison groups (1986 - special, 1999
- mainstream, 1999 - special) do not differ significantly from one another on any
of the variables that are known to influence children's progress. The age distributions,
the comparative numbers of boys and girls, the position of the children in their
families (i.e. only, first, middle, eldest) and the social class distribution of
the comparison groups are all the same, except for one feature of the 1999 teenagers.
The mainstreamed group are significantly younger as a group (mean age 14 years 8
months) than the special school comparison group (mean age 16 years 4 months), as
a greater proportion of the younger teenagers have been included in mainstream for
all of their education than the older ones. This means that the study is less likely
to find mainstream advantages as all the skills being measured improve with age
according to the 1986 results.
Since measures of all the children's development at school
entry are not available, the researchers cannot be absolutely certain that the children
placed in mainstream were not more able at the start of their school careers than
those placed in special schools. However, educational placement policy varied in
Hampshire at the time these children started school. The LEA was divided into four
divisions each covering a geographical area of the County. In the South East Division
inclusion began in earnest in 1988, due to parent lobbying and support for the schools
from the second author, Gillian Bird, a specialist psychologist funded by the Down
Syndrome Educational Trust to develop inclusion with the schools. The children with
Down syndrome were placed in their local mainstream school at 5 years purely on
the basis of their parent's preference for a mainstream placement and not on the
basis of ability.
In the other three divisions, inclusion was started much
later and still remains more limited. These policy and practice differences mean
that equally able children with Down syndrome in most of the County were being placed
in special schools while in the South East Division they were being placed in their
local mainstream school with the support of a full time Learning Support Assistant
(LSA). The research team have information on the children starting in mainstream
schools at 5 years that indicates that they covered the range of ability that is
representative of the majority of children with Down syndrome.
The findings discussed below tend to support the researchers'
assumptions that the two groups of teenagers did not vary in potential ability at
the start of their school career as, on all the measures that are less likely to
be influenced by school experience, there are no differences in the range of achievements
of the two groups as teenagers. However, to be as careful as possible to establish
fair comparison groups, when comparing mainstream and special school effects for
the 1999 group, the 5 least able teenagers (18%) have been removed from the special
school group. This is based on the assumption that the least able children were
not being placed in mainstream schools ten to twelve years ago in any part of the
Hampshire studies: Group differences
- The teenagers in mainstream schools (1999) were on average younger than
the teenagers in special schools (1999 and 1986).
- There were no other significant differences between the groups which
might affect outcomes - other than school placement.
In summary, before considering the findings, there are
no differences between the 1986 and 1999 groups that may effect the conclusions
other than time of birth and school experience. There is one difference between
the 1999 mainstream and special school groups that is significant. The mainstream
teenagers are younger (more being under 15 years of age) but this would have the
effect of making mainstream advantages less likely in the findings.
The data from the 1999 questionnaires were coded blind
- the researchers did not know which school group the child was in when coding the
Personal practical independence
Hampshire studies: Findings
- No differences in daily living skills in any of the groups.
- Spoken language skills are significantly better for the mainstream school
- Academic skills for the special school group are better in 1999 than
they were in 1986.
- Academic skills are significantly better for the mainstream group than
the special school group in 1999.
- Social skills show no differences overall, although the mainstream under
15's show more advanced social skills than the special school under 15's.
- Fewer over 15's in the mainstream 1999 group than in the special 1999
group, but data suggests a benefit for the over 15's in the special school
group for developing mutually supportive friendships.
- Better social behaviour for the 1999 mainstream group than for the 1999
special school group on one of the behaviour measures, but no difference
between groups on the other two measures.
- All of the teenagers progress with age on daily living skills, behaviour
and social measures.
- Only the teenagers in the mainstream school group show an improvement
in language and academic skills with increasing age (11-18 years).
In this area of development most of the teenagers in 1986
were well on their way to complete independence as they progressed through their
teenage years. The studies found no significant differences between the groups in
daily living skills in 1986 or 1999, and that in both the special and mainstream
groups daily living skills were improving with age. Special schools, especially
schools for pupils with severe learning difficulties, would have daily living skills
on their curriculum. However, these findings suggest that these skills are not influenced
by school placement and are predominantly learned at home.
The communication skills of the teenagers have improved
significantly in 1999 when compared to the communication skills of the teenagers
in 1986, but only for those 1999 teenagers who have been in mainstream education.
On the Vineland communication measures this difference between teenagers in mainstream
or special education can be clearly seen. Significantly, there is no difference
in the understanding of spoken language between the two groups, but there is a considerable
difference in expressive (spoken) language skills. The expressive language skills
of the teenagers in mainstream are on average 2 years and 6 months ahead of those
of their peers in special education in 1999. This gain, based on norms for typically
developing children, is dramatic as past studies have shown progress on language
measures to be about 5 months per year for teenagers with Down syndrome.[32,33]
The academic skills of the 1999 teenagers, in reading,
writing and arithmetic, have improved significantly compared to the achievements
of the teenagers in 1986. However, again, the mainstreamed teenagers are way ahead.
The 1999 special school teenagers are significantly ahead of the 1986 teenagers
on writing and arithmetic measures only. The 1999 mainstreamed teenagers are significantly
ahead of the 1999 (and 1986) special school teenagers on reading, writing, arithmetic,
and general knowledge but not on money skills. On the Vineland reading and writing
measure, the 1999 mainstreamed teenagers are 3 years and 4 months ahead of the 1999
special school teenagers (mean scores being 9 years 1 month compared to 5 years
Social skills and leisure activities
All the 1999 teenagers have higher scores on social independence
and social contacts, when compared with the achievements of the 1986 group. There
are no overall school placement effects on social development for the 1999 groups
except on one Vineland scale which indicates a possible benefit of being in special
school. On the Interpersonal Relationships scale, which assesses personal interactive
and friendship skills, the 1999 special school teenagers score significantly higher.
One interpretation of this might be that the teenagers with Down syndrome in special
schools have a peer group in school that allows real reciprocal, mutually supportive
relationships to flourish with peers of similar interests and abilities, but those
in mainstream schools do not. Most of the teenagers with Down syndrome are included
on an individual basis in their local school but the other teenagers with similar
levels of intellectual or learning disability are still in special schools at the
present time. While the mainstreamed teenagers with Down syndrome may have a range
of friendships with their typically developing peers, these may be different in
nature. These friendships may be caring and helping relationships rather than close
special friendships which allow a mutual sharing of experiences and emotional support.
However, this finding needs to be interpreted with caution
as the younger group of mainstreamed teenagers (those under 15 years) score higher
on this Interpersonal Relationships scale than their special school peers in the
same age range (also under 15 years). This group may be benefiting from more experience
in inclusion in the schools, as they progress through school.
Since all the other areas of the teenagers' development
are either the same or significantly improved by being in mainstream school, the
implication of the interpersonal relationships finding is that all teenagers with
learning disabilities should be included in mainstream education to ensure optimum
educational environments for both academic and social development.
Overall, there is little evidence of any differences in
behaviour between the comparison groups. Scores tend to be lower (less difficult
behaviours) for the 1999 mainstreamed teenagers but the difference is only statistically
significant on one of the behaviour scales used - the Vineland behaviour measure.
Progress with age
For the 1999 teenagers, their achievements on the daily
living, behaviour and social measures are improving with age as they did in the
1986 study. For the 1999 mainstreamed teenagers, their communication and academic
skills are improving significantly with age but there is no significant improvement
with age for the 1999 teenagers in special schools on these skills.
The only areas in which there are any differences between
boys and girls in the 1999 groups are on the Vineland measures of communication,
reading and writing skills. As a group the mainstreamed boys are significantly more
delayed than the girls in developing expressive language and in reading progress.
This may be due to a tendency for boys with Down syndrome to have greater speech-motor
- Teenagers in the 1999 special school group have better writing, arithmetic,
social independence and social contacts out of school compared with teenagers
- Teenagers in the 1999 mainstream group are ahead of teenagers in the
1986 group on spoken language, reading, writing, arithmetic, behaviour,
as well as social independence and social contacts out of school.
- Teenagers in the 1999 mainstream group are significantly ahead of teenagers
in the 1999 special school group on spoken language, reading, writing and
- Currently (in the UK) there is a lack of opportunity to develop close
and special, reciprocal friendships in mainstream schools with friends of
the same age with similar levels of cognitive development.
If we return to the questions which this study set out
- Are teenagers in special schools progressing faster in 1999 than in
1986, given the availability of more knowledge on the children's specific special
educational needs and positive changes in social attitudes to disability in
that time? The teenagers in special schools are only showing significant
gains in some academic skills (writing and arithmetic). Both groups of 1999
teenagers have gained a small amount in social independence and social contacts
in the community.
- Are teenagers in mainstream schools in 1999 progressing faster than
the teenagers in 1986? The teenagers in mainstream schools in 1999 are
significantly ahead of the teenagers in 1986 on spoken language, reading, writing,
arithmetic, one measure of behaviour, social contacts out of school and social
- Are the teenagers included in mainstream schools in 1999 showing any
benefits or disadvantages of inclusion when compared to their peers in special
schools in 1999? The teenagers in mainstream schools have much better spoken
language development (2 years 6 months ahead on average) than their peers in
special schools and they have much better reading and writing skills (3 years
4 months ahead on average). They are also ahead on arithmetic and general knowledge
and tend to show fewer behaviour difficulties. The only possible disadvantage
may be the lack of opportunity to develop close and special, reciprocal friendships,
which are based on mutual understanding and support. This may be because at
present other teenagers, with similar levels of language and learning difficulties
are still in the segregated special schools.
Why are there no advantages in special education?
Hampshire studies - possible explanations for language
and academic gains?
The differences between the groups may be explained
by a combination of:
- The very wide range of ability and skills of pupils in small special
school classrooms, making the teacher's task very difficult
- Age appropriate peer groups and competent role models in mainstream
- Individually tailored curriculum in mainstream classrooms, with a high
level of individual support from an assistant
- Higher expectations for pupils' academic achievements in mainstream
- A normal language environment in mainstream schools
- Taking part in reading and writing activities every day in mainstream
classes, with support for learning, particularly for recording work
Perhaps the most important finding to explain is the lack
of any educational advantage for those in special schools despite smaller classes
and specialist teachers. The teenagers in the special schools might be expected
to be ahead on daily living skills and practical independence, especially as special
schools tend to focus the curriculum on these areas and the special school teenagers
in the study are significantly older.
The researchers were also surprised to find that the special
schools were not achieving better outcomes than in 1986, except in writing and arithmetic.
These gains suggest that a more academic curriculum is now in place. However, the
special schoolteacher is trying to teach reading and number to 8 to 10 children
of very varying ability levels, especially in a school for pupils with Severe Learning
Difficulties. It would be very difficult for the child with Down syndrome to receive
the same quality or quantity of instruction in this setting as in the mainstream
classroom, however dedicated the teacher.
In the mainstream classroom, the child with Down syndrome
is learning to read or count in an age appropriate peer group and is therefore surrounded
by competent role models. Most of the class can progress at a similar pace in the
classroom and be taught successfully as a group and the child with Down syndrome
has an individually tailored curriculum to work on at the same time, with the help
of a Learning Support Assistant. Research from Devon, discussed in the next section,
also suggests that the teaching staff have higher expectations for the child's academic
achievement in the mainstream schools.
The spoken language gains shown by the mainstreamed teenagers
are probably due to two factors; being in a normal language environment and taking
part in reading and writing activities on every school day. In the mainstream school,
all the teenagers' peers talk normally, exposing them to normal language models
all the time and including them in conversations. Children with Down syndrome in
mainstream classrooms will be recording their work, even if they are not yet independent
writers, as they have a Learning Support Assistant to help them. This enables them
to practise grammatically correct sentences, even though they may not yet be producing
such sentences independently in their daily conversations. Reading, writing and
spelling activities will teach new vocabulary and new grammar and will improve the
sound production skills needed for clear speech. All these are areas of significant
difficulty for most children and young people with Down syndrome.
It is unlikely that any special school environment can
provide such an effective learning environment for developing speech, language,
literacy and numeracy skills as the mainstream school classroom, for the reasons
described. However dedicated the teaching staff and however hard they work, they
cannot develop an optimal learning environment without a non-disabled peer group.
Since there are no disadvantages for the development of daily living skills, social
independence and appropriate behaviour and only one possible disadvantage - the
availability of special friends - the implications of these data are that all children
with Down syndrome and those with special educational needs similar to those with
Down syndrome, should be fully included in mainstream schools.
Similar findings from other studies
Other studies report similar findings
- Pupils aged 7 to 14 years in mainstream schools are more advanced in
language, literacy and memory development than pupils in special schools.
- A reluctance for special school teachers to acknowledge and tailor teaching
towards specific cognitive profiles and learning styles associated with
In a separate study, Laws, Byrne and Buckley
compared the language and memory development of 22 of the children with Down syndrome
in mainstream school placements in Hampshire with 22 children with Down syndrome
in special schools in a neighbouring county. This county had very few children with
Down syndrome in mainstream school placements (only 5 out of 85 in the age range
studied). The children's ages ranged from 7 years 3 months to 14 years 8 months
and the two groups were matched for age. The children in the mainstream placements
achieved significantly higher scores for vocabulary, grammar and digit span measures
but not for non-verbal measures. The mainstreamed children with Down syndrome in
the younger group (under 10 years 4 months) were on average, two and a half years
ahead on vocabulary knowledge and for the older group, 11 months ahead on vocabulary
and 9 months on grammar comprehension. On a reading measure all but 2 of the mainstream
group were classified as readers and all but 3 of the special school pupils were
classified as non-readers. Even when vocabulary knowledge and age were statistically
controlled for, grammar comprehension and digit spans were significantly better
for the mainstream pupils. This study reports similar language and literacy gains
in mainstream placement as the within Hampshire study.
To other recent United Kingdom studies[28,29]
evaluate aspects of inclusion in comparison with special school and their findings
may explain the lack of benefits found for special education.
Findings in Devon, United Kingdom
In the first study, Beadman
reports on the outcomes for 24 children with Down syndrome in primary education
in South Devon, an area of a county in the United Kingdom. Thirteen of the children
are in mainstream schools and 11 are in special schools. The children in the mainstream
schools are supported by a Learning Support Assistant, usually full-time at the
start of their school career.
Beadman reports that in special schools ''there was less
emphasis on teaching reading than in mainstream schools and less material available
for the teaching of reading. Staff were resistant to new ideas generated by research
and had closed minds, feeling that the general approach of the special school fulfilled
the learning needs of all pupils attending. Many expressed the view that labelling
or diagnosing a child was inappropriate. Classrooms were generally poorly equipped
with reading materials and schemes, and all children offered a very limited choice
of reading scheme - usually the Oxford Reading Tree.
Oxford Reading Tree is a series of reading books
that are widely used in UK schools
One school was introducing
paired reading for staff and parents to use with the children, and although books
were being changed regularly, most of the children were unable to access the print
successfully, instead sitting passively whilst the book was read to them by an adult.
Some teachers did not have access to, or knowledge of, the first 100 or 200 key
words for reading and spelling.
Letterland is a set of materials used to teach
phonics in some UK schools
There was little evidence of any structured systematic
phonics teaching beyond the initial sounds of Letterland. For many of the children
this level of reading achievement would, perhaps, be unrealistic. On the other hand,
other students, including the children with Down syndrome were being denied the
opportunity to develop these important reading skills. There was little evidence
of individual books being made for the children, or accessing language through print.''[28,
pp 20-21] The report also states that ''Teaching staff (in special schools)
interviewed in the study expressed strong views that children with Down syndrome
were part of the special school population, and differentiation occurred in the
same way for all children. There was no evidence of the children with Down syndrome
having their education plans differentiated, taking into account the learning styles
advocated by recent research. Indeed, there was quite strong resistance voiced by
staff to these research findings.''
Beadman's findings confirm the experience of the Portsmouth
research team. It has been very difficult to persuade special school staff to come
to training days on cognitive development, speech and language, or literacy teaching
for children with Down syndrome, yet teachers from mainstream schools are eager
to attend and to plan to meet the children's special learning needs effectively
in the mainstream classroom.
Findings in Oxford, United Kingdom
In the second study, Dew-Hughes
compared the social development and independent learning skills of 12 children with
severe learning difficulties being educated in either a mainstream or a severe learning
difficulty school, some of whom had Down syndrome. Dew-Hughes reports that on the
mainstream site the children with severe learning difficulties were able to:
- Work co-operatively and autonomously for up to 300 percent longer than their
peers in special school
- Form groups and pairs spontaneously, distinguishing appropriately between
companions for work and recreation
- Change to a self-determined activity, within an agreed academic range, after
completing a given task
They had a classroom day over two hours longer than their
peers in special schools, whose timetables were constrained by difficulties of movement
and physical care.
A comparable group in special school were:
- Seen as being less mature than their peers and more dependant on adult help
- Given little responsibility for their own belongings and equipment, or opportunities
to make choices, take risks or determine activities
They had a complex, individualised curriculum with frequent
changes of activity and groups often determined by the least able in the class.[29,
p 16] In the discussion of this study the authors indicate that there
is a tendency to still 'mother' children in the special school and that there are
higher expectations for age-appropriate behaviour and social maturity in the mainstream
Other Hampshire studies on social inclusion
Some other small-scale studies have been conducted in
Hampshire schools, looking at aspects of social acceptance and social interactions
within inclusive school settings. These studies do not provide comparative information
on special schools but they do provide comparisons with the children with Down syndrome
with typically developing peers in the same schools.
Social development and social inclusion studies
Four studies found:
- Opportunities for social development were more limited in special schools
than mainstream schools.
- Pupils in mainstream primary schools were averagely popular and chosen
as friends, but not as best friends.
- The acceptance of the behaviour of pupils with Down syndrome by mainstream
peers may not have been helping these pupils to improve their behaviour.
- The length of time spent interacting socially at mainstream secondary
schools was the same for pupils with and without Down syndrome, although
for pupils with Down syndrome interaction was more likely to be with an
adult. Conversations were less often initiated by the pupils with Down syndrome.
- No difference in self concept between teenagers in mainstream and special
Laws and colleagues
investigated the popularity of 8 to 11 year olds with Down syndrome in mainstream
settings. Sixteen children with Down syndrome, all in different schools, were compared
with 122 peers in the same classes. They report that the majority of children with
Down syndrome were averagely popular and chosen as friends as often as other children
in school. However, they were less likely to be nominated as a 'best friend' or
as someone to invite home. These findings may be highlighting the early indications
of the need for 'reciprocal' friendship opportunities suggested in the teenage findings
already discussed. Interestingly, the behaviour of the children with Down syndrome
did not affect their popularity although it did for their typically developing peers.
Non-disabled peers who behaved badly were less likely to be popular, suggesting
that the children are making special allowances for the behaviour of children with
Down syndrome. While this may seem a positive outcome, it could be argued that this
unconditional peer acceptance does not encourage children with Down syndrome to
improve their behaviour. The popularity of the children with Down syndrome was not
influenced by either their expressive or receptive language skills, again illustrating
the acceptance of the other children.
Quail carried out
a small observational study of the social interactions of 7 teenagers with Down
syndrome in mainstream secondary schools in comparison with peers in the same classes.
She reported that there were no differences in overall time spent in interacting
with others nor the average length of an interaction. However, when considering
the interactions of the teenagers with Down syndrome, more were initiated by the
other person than was the case for the typically developing peers and more interactions
were with adults rather than peers. Topics of conversation were more likely to be
work related than socially related for the teenagers with Down syndrome. These teenagers
are being supported in fully inclusive classes by a Learning Support Assistant,
which explains the amount of adult initiated and work related interactions. The
positive findings are that the pupils with Down syndrome are in conversations as
often and for as long as their peers. The negative findings are that too many of
these conversations are with an adult and initiated by the other partner. The value
of this type of study is that the findings can be discussed in school and efforts
made to be sensitive to these issues. For example, perhaps seating arrangements
would influence adult versus peer conversations, as often the Learning Support Assistant
is seated beside the student with Down syndrome to support their learning in lessons,
reducing casual interactions with peers. If students with Down syndrome are less
confident in initiating conversations, then this might be addressed directly with
the pupil by providing some support and practice for conversations and by alerting
the other pupils to the need to support the pupil.
It has been suggested that the self-esteem and happiness
of students with Down syndrome might be adversely affected by being in mainstream
education, where they may be surrounded by more able children all the time. The
only study available on this issue at present is one by Gould.
Gould investigated the self-concept of 24 teenagers aged
12 to 18 years, 11 in mainstream education and 13 in special education. She found
no difference in their levels of self-concept and concludes that ''the crucial factor
is that individuals feel happy and secure in their school placement, and receive
positive attitudes towards their efforts and abilities in school''. She also found
no relationship between ability measures and levels of self-concept among these