Responding to pupil differences in Oman: A study of two primary schools

  • Thuraya Al Hosni

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis explores how the Omani primary school system responds to pupils' differences. The study took place within a centralised school system, which has a high level of government commitment to meet the international agenda with regard to Education for All and, more recently, the Sustainable Development Goals. Influenced by the thinking of the Index for Inclusion, the study generated a series of 'signposts', which were grouped under the themes of policy, practice and culture, which guided data collection, data management and the presentation of the findings. Qualitative data were generated via a multi-method approach that included documentary analysis, interviews with senior policy makers, school administrators, teachers, pupils, and parents. Data collection also included general and classroom observations, as well as a participatory photography exercise with eight pupils who were believed to be facing forms of exclusion. These data were analysed using thematic analysis, informed by literature relevant to the study focus, the series of signposts, and the researcher's insider knowledge as an experienced member of the Ministry of Education in Oman. The findings confirm that current national policies in Oman are committed to ensuring that all children have access to schools. However, despite these good intentions, there are various context-specific barriers that impede the system from responding to pupil differences. These barriers were identified as stemming from a confusion in understanding about certain key concepts arising from international trends, such as 'all', 'diversity', 'inclusion' and 'quality'. This confusion, combined with certain structural barriers related to communication, collaboration and leadership, makes it difficult to implement international thinking across the system. In addition, attitudes and assumptions about the abilities of some groups of learners proved to be further major barriers when responding to pupils' differences. Together, these barriers create a context of inequality of opportunity for various pupils and appear to restrict their future life chances in comparison to those of their classmates. Drawing on these findings, a context-specific model of conceptual, structural and attitudinal barriers is proposed as a way forward for the Omani school system to better understand the barriers faced in responding to pupils' differences. This model is seen as a contribution to knowledge with regard to responding to pupils' differences that may be relevant to other national contexts, particularly those with centralised educational systems.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlison Alborz (Supervisor) & Susie Miles (Supervisor)


  • Differences,Primary Schools,Oman,Inclusion

Cite this