English language teachers with disabilities: an exploratory study

This report provides an overview of research available about teachers with disabilities working in mainstream education systems.

In 2019, a report published by the Education Commission; Transforming the Education Workforce: Learning Teams for a Learning Generation noted that an increasingly diverse student population needs a deeper engagement with a diversified teacher workforce. The report highlighted the need for new approaches to ensure routes into teaching are accessible for underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities. However, discussions on teacher diversity in countries around the world tend to focus on race, gender and ethnicity with very little attention being paid to other factors such as disability. Since the 1990s, while considerable attention has been placed on developing inclusive schools (for example Ainscow, 1999), very little attention has been given to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the education workforce. The overall objective of this exploratory project was to provide a snapshot of the experiences of English language teachers with disabilities in four purposively selected ODA countries where the British Council currently operates. This was done to better inform the British Councils’ inclusion of teachers with disabilities within their work on English for Education Systems. The countries included in this small-scale exploration are Nepal, India, Rwanda, and South Africa.

About the report

The report begins with an international overview of existing research into teachers with disabilities working in mainstream education systems. Given the paucity of research, a specific focus on English subject teachers would have been very restrictive, hence a broader lens was adopted. The research in the area is primarily Northern based and hence reflections for Southern contexts remain limited. This overview is followed by a discussion of the four countries in relation to any policies, statistics and other information on their efforts towards the inclusion of teachers with disabilities in the workforce. The section on empirical insights gained from this project provides a detailed description of the research process, a discussion of the sample and a critical engagement with the findings. The report concludes with a reflection on the ways forward and recommendations for the British Council’s work in this area.

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