In recent decades, in Australia as elsewhere, students with disabilities (SWD) have been increasingly introduced to mainstream schools. This reflects both changes in social attitudes towards young people with a disability and changes in the policy environment for disability and education. At the same time, independent schools in Australia have been growing both in number and rate; but, as Prasser (2009a) has indicated, the numbers of SWD in independent schools are not growing at a proportional rate. In Christian independent schools, policy issues with regard to SWD collide with central tenets of the Christian faith and the business models in which these schools operate; and these may generate tensions and problems with regard to educating these students. This study sought to explore the issues surrounding educating SWD in a number of regional independent schools in the state of Queensland, Australia. It sought to uncover uniquely Christian approaches to educating SWD by exploring: (a) the perspectives of Principals of these independent Christian schools, (b) tensions between faith and policy and (c) issues surrounding the mainstreaming of SWD.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2014.