Ali, Majid (2008) Perceptions of learning difficulties: a study examining the views of Pakistani and white chldren with learning difficulties, their parents, peers and school staff. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This research investigates cultural differences and similarities in the
perceptions of four British Pakistani and four British white children aged
eleven with learning difficulties. This is pursued through four main aims that
examine how aware pupils are of their learning difficulties; how they and their
significant others perceive their learning difficulties; how they respond to key
labels used to refer to them; and to what extent there are cultural differences
and similarities between the two groups of pupils. This work has been carried
out because there is currently limited research in this area. The pupils’ views
are explored in two contrasting Bradford (West Yorkshire) primary schools
where the cultural population is either predominantly Pakistani or white.
A variety of data collection methods, including semi-structured interviews, a
self-image profile, focus group interviews and observations have been used to
collect data. The findings indicate that there are more commonalities between
the Pakistani and white cultures than there are differences, for example
although Pakistani and white children enjoy coming to school and want to do
well, they are unhappy, embarrassed, and humiliated about having a learning
difficulty and hence face these additional pressures in school. Pakistani
children expressed more of an interest in attending university and then
embarking on professional careers compared to white children.
Peers of average/higher ability perceive children with learning difficulties to
be more prone to bullying, slow learners, unpopular and these peers have low
expectations of what the children with learning difficulties are able to do. Staff
view children with learning difficulties as lacking in confidence and selfesteem,
experiencing unhappiness, having a low self-image, working at a
slower pace and often lacking motivation.
The implications of this research indicate that schools needs to raise the selfesteem
and confidence of children with learning difficulties, so that these
children are able to view their learning difficulty in a positive way. Schools
need to be aware of the pressures that children in the low ability groups face,
and schools therefore need to maintain a balance in providing children with a
basic skills curriculum matched to the individual needs of children and yet
continue to promote their personal development and well-being.


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