Subjective Well-being of Parents in an Inclusive School



This work presents results of a study of the correlations between indicators of subjective well-being of parents with their assessments of an inclusive environment and satisfaction with school. 1583 parents of children with disabilities (4,2%) and without disabilities (95,8%) studying in schools in the city of Tyumen and the south of the Tyumen region were recruited for this work. The author's questionnaires "Subjective well-being", "Assessment of the inclusive environment", "Satisfaction with the school" were used. As a result, a stable relationship between the well-being of parents and their assessments of the inclusive environment and satisfaction with the school was empirically confirmed. The study showed that parental subjective well-being is characterized by a state in which it is possible to show agency and control over situations that arise, a sense of satisfaction, emotional comfort, and a level of meaningful life. The association of subjective well-being with the level of involvement in the inclusive process at school, understanding of inclusion, acceptance of the ideas and values of inclusion was revealed. Parents with a high level of subjective well-being have a significantly higher level of school satisfaction, they also value inclusion resources more and note a higher level of inclusion risks.

General Information

Keywords: subjective well-being; parents of students; inclusive education; in- clusive environment; school satisfaction

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The research was supported by an internal grant of the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia (project No. 28VG).

Acknowledgements. The authors thank all the parents for participating in the study

Received: 06.08.2023


For citation: Kukuev E.A., Patrusheva I.V., Ogorodnova O.V. Subjective Well-being of Parents in an Inclusive School. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2024. Vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 50–64. DOI: 10.17759/pse.2024290204.

Full text


Raising a child with special needs can become a prerequisite for social and personal ill-being for many families. Research shows that this is caused by many factors: low quality of life [15]; stress caused by feelings of anger, fear, anxiety and grief [18; 19; 20; 23]; neuropsychic and physical stress, fatigue, tension, uncertainty about the development of their child [1; 5; 14]; difficulties in the professional and family spheres, stigmatization, lack of time and energy [10].

Parents face many difficulties and problems when they need to introduce their child in the formal education system. The task of choosing between inclusive and correctional education, learning at home or at school, combining rehabilitation activities with educational activities, and other issues arise. As previous studies have shown, in our country these issues still remain an area of ​​concern for parents and great deal of difficulty [8; 11]. Today, the relationship between school and parents is often formal, sometimes even conflicting [2; 13].

However, in the general education system, the role of parents is increasing: they can participate in the creation of a student's individual educational path, an inclusive educational environment, and in the educational work of the organization [12]; parents play a key role in supporting students with special educational needs [6].

According to numerous studies, subjective well-being (SWB) is a person's subjective assessment of his life, which includes various parameters: a person's satisfaction with his own life, the degree of achievement of goals, the absence of negative feelings, mental well-being, safety and sufficiency of resources [17; 21]. Researchers have concluded that SWB consists of cognitive and affective components. The cognitive component refers to satisfaction with life in general or specific areas, while the affective component relates to emotional reactions to life events and happiness [16].

The inclusive transformation of schools, according to many scientists, is becoming a stress factor today for both parents of children with disabilities and those of children with normal development. Their concerns about teaching children in an inclusive class together, as well as their anxieties about the quality of education and the psychological well-being of their children, are noted [3; 23]. Often, parents are poorly informed, not involved in the educational process, and do not accept the values of inclusion, nor are they ready to interact with schools [7; 11]. At the same time, it is important, from a positive psychological perspective, to study not only problems but also resources within families and individuals that lie outside the individual's external environment, as well as the internal psychological strengths of individuals [4]. Parents see a positive emotional climate, organization of communication in the classroom and with teachers, access to specialist consultations and additional types of assistance as the main resources for their children [9].

Research program

The purpose of this study is to identify the correlation between indicators of parents' subjective well-being, their assessments of the inclusive school environment, and satisfaction with school.

The study was conducted in the Tyumen Region of the Russian Federation, in schools in cities such as Tyumen, Ishim, Tobolsk, Zavodoukovsk, and Yalutorovsk. It also included the districts of Tyumen, Ishim, Zavodoukovsk, Tobolsk, and Yalutorovsk. The empirical basis for the study consisted of data collected from a survey conducted with 1,583 parents whose children attend secondary schools. The data collection took place between April and May 2022.

The author's questionnaires "Subjective Well-Being", "Assessment of an Inclusive School Environment", and "Satisfaction with School" were used as diagnostic tools. Statistical analysis was carried out using the statistical software package SPSS 23.0. Factor analysis was performed using the principal component method and varimax rotation. The subjective well-being questionnaire consists of 51 questions, and points are awarded as follows: 1. Additional information is required. 2. I do not agree. 3. Rather, I disagree. 4. I somewhat agree. 5. I fully agree.

The sample of participants consisted of parents of children with disabilities (4.2%) and parents of children without disabilities (95.8%), which generally corresponded to the ratio of children in the inclusive school. There participated parents of 7-11  grade students. Most of the parents were from urban areas (1453 people), although the opinion of rural residents was also represented (130). Mostly women took part in the survey (95.5%) The distribution of parents according to their child's gender was approximately equal: 49.7% were parents of boys and 50.3% were parents of girls. Most families had two children (53.4%); 20% had one or three, and a small number had more than three. 91% of the parents had professional education, with 62.7%, having higher education and 28.3% having secondary vocational training.


The mean subjective well-being score was 4.17, with a standard deviation of 0.19, revealing a high level of well-being and high stability in the results.

Of particular interest are the extreme positions in the assessment of statements. The highest-scoring statements were: "I am always aware of the natural beauty of my environment" (4.51) and "I strive to act without remorse" (4). The lowest scores were given to the statements "I am satisfied with my income level" (3.66) and "rarely feel anxious" (also 3.66).

It is encouraging that the statement on the perception of nature's beauty has the highest score, as only a subjectively prosperous person can have the value of perceiving beauty in his value system. However, the lower income satisfaction results are realistic, given the geographical scope of the sample (see Figure 1).

Rice. 1.SB indicator taking into account respondents’ place of residence

The analysis did not reveal statistically significant differences in the level of SB between parents from different localities (ρ=0.163). However, a trend is visible that the SB of parents in rural areas is generally higher (except for Zavodoukovsky District). When combining samples into "urban/rural" categories, this trend becomes statistically significant (ρ = 0.030), as shown in Figure 2.

Rice. 2.SB indicator for urban/rural samples

Taking into account the fact that the average lies within the same interval (more than 4 - rather agree), this finding is not significant for qualitative differences. Qualitative differences will be described below.

Let us analyze the factor model of subjective well-being for the entire sample of parents. The factor model includes three factors with an explained total variance of 53.9%: 1. Agency (18.5%) - This factor includes statements that position subjective well-being in controllable contexts: "I feel generally in control of all aspects of my life" (0.57), "I always act in accordance with my goals" (0,592), "I never let a dark situation rob me of my sense of humor" (0. 529) 2. Life satisfaction (18,1%) - Parents in subjective well- being note characteristics of satisfaction: "Usually I am in good mood" (0 .758), " I am satisfied with income level" (0 ,434), "satisfied with successes and achievements" (0.482) 3. Values and meanings (17,3%) - this factor combines statements expressing a positive attitude towards values: "I'm always aware of natural beauty environment" (0 689), I try to find positive things in various life situations (0.575). Despite the difficulties, I always look forward to the future (0.626).

Therefore, the subjective well-being of the parents interviewed is a state that can be described as the ability to manage one's life, a feeling of contentment, emotional comfort, and meaningful fulfillment. If this model of subjective well-being is applied to the educational process, the following can be assumed. The nature of the subjective well-being of parents can be influenced by several factors, including: 1) The degree to which they are able to take a subjective position, participate, and control (be involved in the organization, receive information, and have the opportunity to influence). 2) The extent to which the school can meet their current needs "here and now". 3) Whether school situations provide positive emotional support and have a basis in values.

The next significant area of research is the analysis of subjective well-being assessments by parents with different socio-psychological profiles. First, we analyzed differences in SWB levels between parents of students residing in rural (8.2%) and urban (91.8%) settings. Of the 51 items, statistically significant differences were found in 12 (23.5%), with SB being significantly higher among rural parents. These differences apply to all three dimensions of well-being, with most related to the "Agency" dimension. That is, partially, but for each factor, parents from rural areas feel more prosperous. In particular, parents of students from rural areas believe that the context of well-being is to a greater extent provided by the possibility of their agency and control in life.

In the course of analyzing the findings from the assessment of the inclusive educational environment, we identified three key factors, which we have conventionally referred to as: "communication", "principles and values", and "organization".

The "communication" factor includes such characteristics as: involvement of students and parents in the life of the school; participation in extracurricular activities; interaction of all subjects of education with each other; availability of specialists who can help (psychologist, etc.); cooperation with other organizations; psychological and physical safety of the educational environment; support from the school administration, and so on.

The "principles and values" factor includes the following indicators: absence of discrimination, availability of social support, a positive emotional atmosphere, a caring attitude towards all, equal requirements, consideration of individual characteristics, respect and tolerance, and so on.

The "organization" factor includes the following characteristics of an inclusive educational environment: openness to education, adaptation of the learning environment to each student, barrier-free organization and material and technical conditions to ensure accessibility of the environment, organizing additional classes to develop everyone's abilities, fair distribution of resources, availability of trained personnel such as tutors, assistants, educational psychologists and speech therapists, inclusion of parents and students in decision-making processes, etc.

These factors, with a total explained cumulative variance of 48.2% among parents of students living in the city, are distributed as follows: The first factor is "communication" (21.3%), the second - "principles and values" (15.6%), and the third is "organization" (11.3%). Thus, when assessing the inclusive environment, parents primarily focus on communication, such as "The school informs...", "The school explains...", and "...brings parents and teachers together." This is an essential component of a barrier-free and inclusive educational space. Second in importance are the principles underlying an inclusive environment. Third are organizational conditions.

For parents from rural areas, an inclusive environment is primarily determined by principles and values (first factor - 25.3%). However, in this factor, principles and values are complemented by organizational conditions. Thus, the first factor for parents of students from rural areas conditionally represents "principles and values ensured by organizational conditions." It is interesting that these values appear specifically in the rural sample. According to the analysis of variance, statements about the organization of the educational process do not differ significantly from those chosen by parents of students in urban areas. The association of statements regarding inclusive principles and values with organizational conditions in the factor model indicates that parents from rural students are not only mentally closer to inclusive values but also consider the significance of organizational infrastructure.

This is more accurately evidenced by the results of the interview. M.L. (age 36, child 8th grader): "The teachers have known all of our children since childhood, and we know all of the kids, so we help the school to prevent any quarrels." N.N. (age 41, child 9th grader) "Of course, we don't have enough equipment for children with special needs like in the city, not everything is modern in the schools, it's a pity. But our teachers are professionals." That is, compactness of residence, intensity and duration of communication, sufficient autonomy are important conditions for inclusion in education. At the same time, the significance of organizational conditions is determined from the position of awareness of their deficiency.

Data analysis made it possible to calculate the level of parents' subjective well-being expression (Fig. 3).

Rice. 3. Level of expression of subjective well-being of parents

The results obtained allow us to analyze the relationship between SB and the characteristics of inclusion in school (Table 1).

Table 1. Correlations between parents’ SWB and their involvement in the inclusive process in school (N=1583)

Level of involvement in the inclusive process at school

SB level




not involved at all yet







informed about existing programs and activities







I take part in events, but to a limited extent







involved in event organization and planning







I participate in decision making together with the school







As we can see, parents with high levels of subjective well-being are more actively involved in the inclusive process at school (Pearson Chi-square=44.119, ρ=0.000). This is especially evident in the positions "involved in organizing events and planning" (almost 9 times), "participating in decision-making together with the school" (4 times). However, there was no significant association between subjective well-being and the presence of a child with a disability (Pearson Chi-square = 0.881, ρ = 0.644).

We consider this question to be one of the most important when analyzing the position of parents regarding inclusion: "How do you feel about your child studying in an inclusive environment?" Because this statement should be perceived and assessed by parents as realistically and objectively as possible (Table 2).

Table 2. Correlations between parents’ SWB and their attitude towards the child’s education in an inclusive environment (N=1583)

How do you feel about the fact that your child will study in an inclusive environment?

SB level




I feel anxious




























Although no statistically significant association was found (Pearson Chi-square=10.251, p=0.114), a trend can be seen. In particular, among parents with a high level of subjective well-being, the largest number (165 people) chose the answer "positive." This is another argument for understanding the connection between parents' subjective well-being and their position on inclusion in education.

Let us clarify the identified trend by analyzing questions regarding understanding inclusion and acceptance of its ideas and values (Table 3).

Table 3. Correlations between parents’ SWB and their understanding of what inclusion is (N=1583)

Do you understand what inclusion is?

SB level




no, I don't understand







I find it difficult to answer







I understand it well







A statistically significant correlation between subjective well-being (SWB) and parents' understanding of inclusion was revealed (Pearson chi-square = 23.525, p = 0.000), as shown in the table below. This is especially clear in quantitative terms, where over 90% of respondents choose the "I understand well" answer. This proves that subjective well-being and inclusion are linked, despite the fact that SWB is an individual characteristic and is influenced by a person's social environment.

To clarify the parents' position, the questionnaire asked the question "Do you accept the ideas and values of inclusion?" (Table 4).

Table 4. Correlations between parents’ SB and their acceptance of ideas and values ​​of inclusion (N=1583)

Do you accept the ideas and values ​​of inclusion?

SB level











I find it difficult to answer














Based on the data obtained, a statistically significant rcorelation was revealed between SWB (subjective well-being) and parents' acceptance of the ideas and values of inclusion (Pearson Chi-square=41.052, ρ=0.000). In other words, prosperous parents subjectively understand inclusion better and accept its ideas and values.

The data obtained and the identified trends allow us to move on to the study of differences in the assessment of inclusion in education of different samples of parents. The first questionnaire concerned parents' assessment of the school's inclusive environment. The questionnaire for parents clarified the concept of an inclusive school environment as an organization that creates conditions for the education of children with disabilities (Fig. 4).

Fig.4.Assessment of the inclusive school environment by parents with different levels of SWB

(in the legend, the lines represent the average values ​​for each statement in the questionnaire)

The observed tendency towards higher assessments of the inclusive school environment by parents with high SWB was confirmed by the Mann-Whitney U test, when comparing low and high levels of SWB for all 36 statements (ρ=0.000).

The second questionnaire examined the characteristics of parental satisfaction with the school (Fig. 5).

Fig.5. Assessment of school satisfaction by parents with different levels of SWB

(in the legend, the lines represent the average values ​​for each statement in the questionnaire)

The Mann-Whitney U test confirmed significant differences in the assessment of satisfaction with school by parents with low and high levels of subjective well-being (for all 20 statements, ρ=0.000). Parents with high SWB are significantly more satisfied with schools.

We will analyze the questionnaire about resources and risks of inclusion according to these blocks (Fig. 6).


Fig. 6. Assessment of resources and risks of inclusion by parents with different levels of SWB

(in the legend, the lines represent the average values ​​for each statement in the questionnaire)

The Mann-Whitney U test confirmed significant differences in the assessment of resources and risks of inclusion by parents with low and high levels of SWB (for all 21 statements, ρ=0.000). Interestingly, on the one hand, parents with high SWB evaluated the resources of inclusion higher, demonstrating an understanding of their potential and significance. On the other hand, they also noted a higher level of inclusion risks. This confirms the previously identified phenomenon that resources and risks are not opposite contexts of inclusion. If a person notes the resourcefulness of inclusive education, this does not mean that he does not see its risks. These results reflect the conscious and balanced position of a person who is really involved in the educational process. In this case, the position of parents with a low level of SWB looks much weaker, as they do not sharpen their understanding of the risks of inclusion at school, but also do not allocate its resources.

The results obtained indicate the need to analyze factor models for assessing the inclusive school environment among samples of parents with high and low SWB levels. A comparison of the factor models reveals, on the one hand, similarities in structure, but on the other, differences both in terms of loadings and content. Let us analyze these models according to the previously accepted factors: "Principles and Values", "Communication", and "Organization". The model for evaluating an inclusive environment for parents with low SWBs shows the following order of factors: Principles and Values - Organization - Communication. That is, the inclusive environment is determined by the values accepted at the school, followed by what organizational conditions have been created and how communication has been ensured. The model for assessing the inclusive environment by parents with high SWB is unique in terms of the loadings of the first factors (the first – 25.122%, the second – 22.467%, the third – 5.204%). In terms of content, it is represented by the following hierarchy: principles and values ​​(first), communication (second), including statements related to the "organization" factor. That is, the organizational component for parents with high SWB is associated with both "principles and values" and "communication" in assessing an inclusive environment. The resulting fact of contingency can be indirectly confirmed by the results of the factor model of subjective well-being; the first factor was defined as "Agency". Therefore, in assessing an inclusive environment, the "organization" factor can be a characteristic of agency, and is included in the contexts of inclusive principles, values ​​and communication.


The study traces a strong connection between the subjective well-being of parents and their assessment of the inclusive school environment and satisfaction with school. At the same time, it should be noted that this relationship was found as a result of an empirical study.

The qualitative characteristics of the data obtained allow us to conclude that subjective well-being for parents is a state which is expressed in such factors as the ability to control life, a sense of satisfaction, emotional comfort and a meaningful fulfillment of life. In our opinion, this understanding of subjective well-being among parents has a practical orientation: creating conditions to update these factors at school could help support and increase the level of parental subjective well-being.

It was revealed that subjective well-being is significantly higher among parents living in rural areas. This is associated with several characteristics of inclusion in school, such as the level of involvement in the process, understanding of inclusion, acceptance of ideas and values related to inclusion. The differences in the priorities of factors for evaluating an inclusive educational environment can serve as a guide for building partnerships with parents. For example, since communication with families living in urban areas is a priority, schools need to develop various information channels to prevent them from becoming clogged or overloaded. Providing feedback during the implementation of inclusive processes is also essential. It is important to create platforms for friendly communication, leisure groups and associations that can generate and implement solutions to improve the school environment. These efforts should be supported. The school can also improve basic communication within families through training for children and parents to understand communication patterns, transform them, and develop basic communication skills. For parents from rural areas, the inclusive environment is determined primarily by the principles and values provided by organizational conditions. Therefore, the priorities of the school's inclusive policy should include events aimed at creating an inclusive culture, promoting home and school participation of parents through awareness of the benefits of such involvement, establishing supportive structures and communities, and creating inclusive spaces.

The study recorded a significantly higher level of school satisfaction among parents with a high level of SWB (subjective well-being). In addition, they appreciate the resources of inclusion more, thereby demonstrating an understanding of its potential and significance of its values. They also understand the risks associated with inclusion. Therefore, parents with high levels of SWB can form a pillar of support for the implementation of inclusive policies and practices at school. This task can be achieved through the targeted involvement of parents with a high level of SB in the process of decision-making and participation in inclusive educational policy at the school and neighborhood level.

The study proves, firstly, the importance of taking into account and paying attention to the "voice of parents" when designing and organizing an inclusive educational environment. This will lead to increased satisfaction with school and ensure that special educational needs are taken into consideration. Secondly, the study demonstrates the need for careful attention to the subjective well-being of parents, as parents with high levels of SWB are more willing to actively engage and support inclusive policies and practices. In addition, parents' well-being largely determines children's well-being and allows for a safe, supportive, and developmental environment in inclusive schools. Prospects for continuing research in this area may include investigating the correlation between children's, parents', and teachers' subjective well-being in the context of inclusive education transformation factors, as well as exploring parents' subjective well-being of children with special needs and the factors that influence it.


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Information About the Authors

Evgeny A. Kukuev, PhD in Psychology, Тhe Chair of Child Psychology and Pedagogy, Institute of Psychology and Pedagogy, Tyumen State University, Tyumen, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Inga V. Patrusheva, PhD in Education, Associate Professor, Chair of General and Social Pedagogy, Institute of Psychology and Pedagogy, Tyumen State University, Tyumen, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Olga V. Ogorodnova, PhD in Education, Head of the Chair of Psychology and Pedagogics of Childhood, Tyumen State University, Tyumen, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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