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Sympathetic school staff 'hinder progression' of special needs pupils

30/03/2009 Joanna
School staff who express less sympathy towards pupils with disabilities or learning difficulties are more likely to challenge them, according to a new study.

Assessing almost 200 teachers, researchers at Strathclyde University found that children with special needs are more likely to be held back in mainstream schools if their teachers are overly sympathetic, reports the Herald.

They looked at levels of sympathy and classroom attitudes of 199 people in teaching jobs and found that the development of these pupils can be hindered by certain attitudes.

"Feeling sorry for someone means that you are treating them differently from other pupils in the classroom and that is not necessarily helpful," the paper quoted Dr Lisa Woolfson, director of the Doctorate in Educational Psychology at Strathclyde, as stating.

She added that more sympathetic teachers appeared to be less positive about the ability of children with disabilities to progress.

However, those that were not as sympathetic "saw the children's difficulties as less stable and therefore more amenable to change".

Meanwhile, a study of schoolchildren in the UK by Cambridge University's Autism Research Centre has found that autism could be more prevalent than previously thought, the Daily Mail reported last week.
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