Inclusive classrooms in Italy and England: the role of support teachers and teaching assistants

Cristina Devecchi, Filippo Dettori, Mary Doveston, Paul Sedgwick, Johnson Jament

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Various models of providing for the inclusion of children with disabilities and special needs exist in different European countries. Central to all these models is the notion that support for children and teachers is pivotal in ensuring effective inclusion. This article draws from three qualitative studies on the role, employment and deployment of support teachers in Italy and teaching assistants in England to examine similarities and differences between the two models of provision. The analysis of questionnaires and interviews show that, despite differences in relation to professional qualifications and responsibilities, both support teachers and TAs carry out similar supportive roles, but also share similar feelings of marginalisation, isolation and professional dissatisfaction. The paper raises questions about the effectiveness of providing support from additional adults when such adults are not fully included in the life of the school.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • collaboration
  • inclusion
  • roles
  • special educational needs
  • support teachers
  • teaching assistants


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