University Of Tasmania

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An investigation of parents’ decisions to transfer children from regular to special schools

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 18:27 authored by Mann, G, Monica CuskellyMonica Cuskelly, Moni, K
Often within frameworks of inclusive education policy and legislation, many countries continue to provide both special and regular schools as options for students with disability. One persistent explanation for the maintenance of dual systems is the school choice that it offers parents. Enrolment decisions can be ongoing, and parents may have to, or decide to, reassess their schooling choice. One example of this scenario is the decision to transfer from a regular to a special school. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the decision-making process of parents who transferred their child from regular to special school. Eighty parents from Queensland, Australia, completed a survey which collected information about their decision-making in this regard. A factor analysis was undertaken with survey items relating to (1) reasons for leaving regular school, (2) hopes for special school, and (3) the decision-making process. Clear factors emerged as underlying dimensions in parental decision-making, including those relating to (1) learning, (2) emotional states, (3) school culture, and (4) the difficulties associated with decisionmaking. Results indicate that parents’ decision-making is influenced by negative experiences in the mainstream and high expectations for segregated schooling. Emotional strain in regular schools was strongly linked to an exclusionary school culture, and there was an important association between learning and well-being. Implications of these findings for parents, teachers, and other educators are discussed.


Publication title

Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities








Faculty of Education


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2018 International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education; Inclusive education