Disabled Teachers

  • Mark Andrew Lyn

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is a study of the discourse on disability as it is encountered by disabled teachers within schools. This discourse is researched through three primary strands of data. The first source of data resulted from interviews conducted with teachers with disabilities. Nine teachers were interviewed. I also interviewed head teachers so as to set the analysis of the discourse in the fuller context of practices within schools. Three headteachers were interviewed. The third strand of data used in this thesis consisted of equality legislation and supporting documents. The question under investigation was this: ‘how does the discourse on disability within schools constrain, restrict or empower disabled teachers’? The method of analysis used was that of discourse analysis.
My theoretical analysis follows the work of Michel Foucault whom I chose because his analysis of the normalising and disciplinary discourses in society offered theories of society that supported the rubric of Disability Studies with a focus of disability in line with the social model of disability.
The main conclusions of this thesis are that schools as disciplinary institutions are constrained themselves to operate through normalising and disciplinary discourses. These discourses constrain all teachers. The Equality Act 2010 is premised on the basis of formal equality and, as such, would posit that all teachers in schools are constrained in identical ways. My analysis refutes that view and I argue that the discourses through which teachers are constrained to act constrain disabled teachers more than others because the practices of these discourses posit a non disabled person.
However, I show also the ways the teachers interviewed resisted the subjection offered. Foucault’s theory of the care of the self, in particular, begins to offer a nuanced way to analyse this resistance. I end the thesis with suggestions for implementing change.
Date of Award10 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorLorella Terzi (Director of Studies), Debbie Epstein (Co-Supervisor) & Sarah O'Flynn (Co-Supervisor)


  • Disability
  • Foucault
  • Discourse
  • Equality Law
  • Teachers

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