Using a 'collaborative contextual enquiry' methodology for understanding inclusion for autistic pupils in Palestine

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This study investigated concepts of inclusive education for pupils with autism in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestine. The 'contextual collaborative enquiry' methodology was rooted in praxis, and drew on social learning theory and communities of practice to gather a community of researchers, parents and practitioners in Palestine to investigate understandings of autism educational practice in order to identify how to move practice forward. Through mixed methods, we interviewed a purposive sample of key people (n=19) to gain access to a broad range of perspectives on the research topic; visited centres of provision for children with special needs (n=6) and other specialist settings (n=8); and ran a two-day interactive and dialogic workshop with staff (n=40) from the special needs department of the Ministry of Education. Through a rigorous Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of interviews, field notes, questionnaire and focus groups, we found that the biggest obstacles to inclusion were stigma, lack of knowledge, and poor diagnostic practices, coupled with a rigid education system and an absence of shared understanding of what inclusion might mean for Palestine. There were gaps between beliefs in social justice and the concrete reality of including children with autism. Despite obstacles and barriers to inclusion, participants were passionate about gaining new knowledge, adopting different pedagogies and enabling inclusion. These findings are significant as they highlight that a push towards more inclusive practices through social learning approaches could be a powerful driver in mounting a challenge to the inflexibility within the current education system in Palestine.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalEducational Review
Early online date14 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2017


  • inclusion , autism , inclusive education , Palestine , collaborative methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas