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Social skills, social position and sense of belonging to school among elementary school pupils with or without Special Educational Needs

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Vasiliki Statiri, Eleni Andreou
Vasiliki Statiri, Eleni Andreou

Abstract


Differing educational, social and emotional needs of each pupil have to be taken into consideration by the contemporary inclusive practices applied in the school environment. Effective social inclusion of pupils is significantly affected by social compe-tence, positive social relationships and strong bonds with the school. The aim of the pre-sent study is to investigate the social skills, the social position and the sense of belonging to a school among elementary school pupils with or without special educational needs (SEN). Furthermore, the association between social position and social skills is analyzed in the current study. The relationship between social position and the sense of belonging to a school is also scrutinized. The sample consisted of 498 pupils attending the 4th, 5th and 6th grades of primary school, 64 of whom participated in pull-out special education deliv-ery programs operating within mainstream schools. Two self-report questionnaires and a sociometric test were distributed to assess the social skills, sense of belonging and social position of pupils. According to the findings, pupils with SEN have lower social positions, poorer social skills and also a poorer sense of belonging compared to their typical peers. Considering the association between the variables, the social position is slightly correlated with social skills for the whole sample and for the group of typically developing pupils. However, this relationship is stronger for the group of pupils with SEN. A low positive correlation between the social position and the sense of belonging also emerged for the whole sample and for the group of typically developing pupils. This rela-tionship is not significant for the group of pupils with SEN though. The findings indicate that pupils with SEN run a higher social risk than the typical pupils. A supportive school climate and equal learning and participation opportunities are highly recommended. Moreover, enhancing social skills may be beneficial not only for the pupils with SEN, but also for every pupil.


Keywords


social skills; sociometric status; sense of school belonging; special educational needs; social inclusion

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