School Culture for Students with Significant Support Needs: Belonging Is Not Enough

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This qualitative study examined the influence of school culture on services for students with significant support needs. Students with significant support needs are defined as those who typically have cognitive impairments, often paired with sensory and physical challenges, and who require substantial supports to receive benefit from education. Using Schein's (1988) definition of culture, ethnographic methods, including observations, interviews and artifacts, were used to collect data related to artifacts, values, and assumptions. Results of this study indicate a strong sense of family, community and belonging. However, belonging did not include critical components of instruction as described as best practice in special education literature.