Inclusion

10 October 2016

The 1978 Department of Education and Science Warnock Report began the modern era of educational inclusion, by introducing the idea of integrating a broader group of children into mainstream schools. This was reinforced by the Scottish Education Department progress report by HM Inspector of Schools, also in 1978, which criticized the withdrawal of children from class for additional support on the grounds of curricular provision. Since the publishing of these reports, they have formed the basis of inclusion nowadays in schools and on a social level, not just in the UK, but also in the USA.

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The 1989 United Nations conference on the rights of a child asserted that all children have the right to a decent education no matter their disability (articles 28 and 29). The rights of a child have increased rapidly over the past 20 years; for example, the 2004 Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act (which was amended in 2009), introduced the term “Additional Support Needs” (ASN) and introduced new rights for parents and increased rights for children.

Inclusion is not just focused on in the UK, in 1994 Salamanca set out an Agreement and Framework for Action, which advocates that all children ought to be taught in a mainstream school, which has an “inclusive orientation”. Inclusion is defined as “the process by which a school attempts to respond to all pupils as individuals by reconsidering its school organization and provision” (Sebba and Ainscow, 1996).

This means that disabled children will spend most or all of their time with non-disabled children in schools, however, for this to be successful the severity of the child’s disability and the effect this will have on the non-disabled members of the class, should be taken into consideration. This is accounted for in the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. (Scotland) Act of 2000, which talks about the “presumption of mainstreaming” and states that all children will go to a mainstream school unless it is deemed educationally unsuitable, detrimental to other children, or too expensive.

The Education Act of 1996 (including the amendment) defines the meanings “special educational needs”, “special educational provision” and the code of practice in schools. Furthermore, because of inclusion, it does not matter whether the child has a physical, mental or learning difficulty; he or she will still be included in the mainstream school society. As a student teacher, it is my responsibility to understand what I need to do for pupils with specific learning needs, to ensure they get the best education they can, with or without a disability.

Within this assignment, the concept of “a fully inclusive school” and what it involves will be discussed. Following that, the advantages and disadvantages of a fully inclusive school will be investigated. In order for inclusion to work, it is the teacher’s responsibility to implement inclusion within their classes and the curriculum by catering for all their pupil’s educational needs. Therefore, the responsibilities of an effective teacher and how important their role is in enforcing inclusion within the schools curriculum will also be discussed.

A “fully inclusive school” is one which addresses inclusion throughout the curriculum; by ensuring that inclusion is enforced throughout the curriculum and by teachers, during and after class, physically; by mainstreaming disabled children with non-disabled children, and socially; by promoting the mixing and socializing of all children. All children are different, “there will always be some children who require a specialist sheltered environment… the needs of some disabled children are radically different from those of the average child.

These different needs must be given proper status” (Aird, 2001). This is where inclusion takes form throughout the curriculum. Different children require different support needs, which must be appropriately addressed in order for their educational experience to be a success. The legal definition says: “A child or young person is said to have ‘additional support needs’ if they need more – or different support – to what is normally provided in schools or pre-schools to children of the same age. This implies that any child who struggles with a subject due to a learning difficulty must have their needs catered for in order for them to get the best education possible. This is the duty of the additional support needs workers, who help children overcome their educational barrier. While on placement as a student teacher, I encountered many children who had English as a second language. During lessons, an additional support worker would help them to understand what was required during the lesson, which enabled them to enjoy and understand what they are being taught.

However, children whose English was very poor were not immediately mainstreamed into classes, which excluded them from lessons and socialising with other children in those lessons. For a school to be “fully inclusive”, they must also have social inclusion. My opinion is that students who require ASN should not be segregated from those students who don’t. This is where the work of student support workers comes in and plays an important role in making a fully inclusive school successful.

In addition, the school must also be inclusive by making itself accessible to all children with physical disabilities. A school cannot be called “fully inclusive” if it does not have lifts or wheelchair access for pupils who require them. The council must have inclusion in mind in order to build it into the schools to make them accessible for everyone. It is not enough for the government to introduce policies on inclusion in schools, they have to physically build it into the schools and the teachers, office staff and support workers must build it into the school ethos.

It is not enough for a school to just have social and inclusion throughout the curriculum, but in order to make a “fully inclusive” school effective, there must be physical inclusion, where pupils who require ASN can communicate and integrate with pupils who don’t. Inclusion should play a role in building a community within and around the school, as well as developing values in schools, raising achievement and overall improving the school for teachers and for pupils. Poverty is a major factor when trying to include all pupils socially and physically in schools.

A study showed that “children from low income families are less likely to flourish at school” (Citizens Advice, 2005). Families who poorer financially may not be able to afford the simple uniform schools require their children to wear. In 2005, “three quarters of parents of secondary school children and two thirds of parents of primary school children could not meet the costs of the school uniform”(CA, 2005). This puts added pressure onto families, and not wearing a school uniform can make the child feel less included or embarrassed, because they do not have the proper uniform.

For inclusion to work, all children who have the right to an education, also have the responsibility to attend school to receive it. However, it is up to the government to provide the basic necessities, such as a clothing grant, so that children from poorer families can feel included by attending school and getting an education that will give them the best start in life. From my placement experience, the school uniform was not as strict as other schools I’ve seen. I found this appropriate because the uniform was simple and other children who come from different countries could be included within the school.

Poverty does not only affect families financially but pupils who are from a lower class family are less likely to do well in school. The OCED review of quality and equity in schools in 2007 stated that: “The socio-economic background of students was strongly related to their attainment. There is a continuing need to tackle problems of poverty and deprivation if students are to achieve their full potential”. The OCED report of 2009 stated that the “socio-economic background is related to performance for at least two reasons.

First, students from families with more educated parents, higher income and better material, educational and cultural resources are better placed to receive superior educational opportunities in the home environment as well as richer learning opportunities outside of the home relative to students from less-advantaged backgrounds…” In addition, children who are from a low-income family will not have as many opportunities as their parents may not be as interested in education because they themselves have not had any educational advantages.

The Scottish Government introduced the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in 1999, to encourage those children from a lower income household to stay on at school after they turned sixteen. “This financial support has increased participation in post-16 education of young people from deprived areas” (EIS, 2010). By helping those children from poorer backgrounds, the government is moving forward in including every child as best they can in education and ensuring equal opportunities for every child.

This is why inclusion is so important in the Scottish education system, and I believe a fully inclusive school will tackle all problems it is faced with. Since the introduction of inclusion in schools, there have been many advantages and disadvantages. Students who are in classrooms with those who have additional learning needs can benefit, as inclusion itself is a learning experience. Children learn about different types of learning difficulties other students might have which allows them to identify them later on in life e. . in their workplace. It improves communication and interaction skills for all and can increase positive peer interactions in and out with the classroom. A study shows that “when students who were declared currently eligible and students who were considered candidates for special education were combined as a group, they had significantly lower social-preference scores and significantly higher social-impact scores than did their general education peers” (Sale, P & Carey, D, 1995).

This study shows that those children with ASN, who were integrated into a mainstream school, were made more aware of their disability because of the abilities of other children around them, on the other hand, when children with ASN were integrated into a classroom with those who didn’t have ASN, their social skills improved. Inclusion has allowed those children from low-income families to be included in schools by schemes that allow families to purchase school uniforms.

However, “nine out of ten parents of school children and over half the parents of primary school children have to purchase at least three items” (C. A, 2005) from the school. Parents could be embarrassed about purchasing this many products from schools, but “58% of parents of children of secondary school and 55% of parents of children from primary school thought that their child might be bullied if they did not have the correct uniform” (C. A, 2005). Schools helping those families who cannot afford uniforms is costly for the government, however it makes children feel more part of a chool and will give them the encouragement they need to attend school and get the most out of education. In November 2012, Alex Salmond stated in parliament that the Education budget will not be cut, but, this is not the case, and after an apology to the Parliament, the budget is indeed being cut. If the government decides to cut the budget for uniforms, schools will then find it harder to include those children from a lower background, because they cannot afford the essentials of a simple uniform.

It is important to have inclusion in schools, even if they are not fully inclusive, “inclusion is not easy, but it’s not optional” (Donaldson, G. 2004). In 1994, the Salamanca Agreement and Framework for Action stated that; “Inclusion and participation are essential to human dignity and to the enjoyment and exercise of human rights. ” If inclusion did not exist today, there would be a major divide between those pupils who require ASN and those who don’t.

There would be diversity between pupils, as they would be separated and pupils would be ignorant of pupils who need additional support. Inclusion is in itself an educational experience for pupils, as they learn about the needs of others and just how different everyone is, which creates a friendly environment and one less susceptible to bullying. In contrast to that, some parents may feel that putting their child who requires additional support into a mainstream school may make them more susceptible to bullying, and that inclusion in education can itself be a form of bullying.

Teaching children is becoming more difficult for teachers due to children who need ASN, therefore, “we need to rediscover the competency of mainstream teachers at meeting learning challenges… best practice of ordinary teachers should be the starting point” (Ainscow 1999). A child who suffers from behavioural difficulties and is included in classrooms is an issue that teachers and students have to face. Children with behavioural difficulties can disrupt lessons and make learning harder for pupils, especially if some of those pupils also require additional support needs.

For inclusion to work, the government will have to spend more of the education budget on additional support assistants, so that pupils can get one to one support, and the teacher can carry on without the lesson being disrupted. Furthermore, if the child with behavioural difficulties needs to be taken out of the classroom, the assistant can take them out quietly without disrupting the lesson or students. However, with the government cutting the Scottish education budget, will there be enough support assistants for each child in mainstream schools?

The Scottish government is trying their best to eliminate obesity in schools, by ensuring pupils receive more physical education. However, those pupils who have physical disabilities and require wheelchairs or crutches are not included in physical education classes because they are the minority in the classroom. Disability equality in education stated in 2005: “We believe that the problem is not in the child and their impairment but in the social and attitudinal barriers in the education system. The barriers cannot be broken down, unless funding is put in place for the equipment needed, so that children can perform on a level playing field, for example, instead of the physical education class taking part in rugby, they implement wheelchair rugby, thus including all children in the class. This is what I believe, as a teacher; inclusion in schools is important in Scottish education despite some of the disadvantages. The role of an effective teacher in education can make inclusion either successful or unsuccessful.

It is the teacher’s duty to raise concern about a pupil who they think may have additional support needs and to report any concerns to the pupil support staff. Furthermore, pupils should be comfortable talking to teachers about any difficulties they face in class; therefore teachers should have good people and communication skills, be flexible and create a pleasant atmosphere for pupils. In addition, all children have the right to a decent education, and it is the teacher’s duty to deliver this and be as inclusive as possible in their lessons; “excellent education is education that is excellent for all” (Heumann 1999).

On placement I observed, that boys tend to dominate physics from third year to sixth year. I also noticed that most schools have a small physics department, but a large biology department. In addition, modern studies is a subject dominated by girls (as well as biology) and history tends to be dominated by boys. I believe that for a school to be fully inclusive, subjects that are seen as “male orientated” should actively encourage girls and subjects such as mathematics, physics and chemistry, which are accessible for all pupils should be more accessible to the average pupil.

For this to happen, where possible teachers should give their time to additional after school classes, to help pupils grasp the knowledge they need for harder subjects. An effective teacher must be accessible to all pupils and must be enthusiastic and make their subject as interesting as possible, as “children who are slower to learn – for whatever reason – need the same in order to learn as any other child… our humanity tells us they need: interest, confidence, freedom from worry, a warm and patient teacher” (Thomas & Loxley 2001).

I believe that students are sometimes more willing to pick a subject because of the teacher, even though the subject might be hard, if they can learn the knowledge because of that teacher, the implications of inclusion make me believe that any subject can be accessible to any pupil, which is why teachers must be inclusive, when teaching both in and out with the classroom. However, in saying that, there are restrictions on a teacher being fully inclusive in their classroom.

I know that during my placement, there were limitations to what some children could learn; due to the fact English was their second language. Furthermore, some pupils came to school unprepared, with no stationary or jotters and with the attitude that they didn’t want to learn. I took the decision to make my lessons more interesting and fun, I endeavoured to give extra time to the pupils concerned and explained the lesson slower, so that they had a better understanding whilst others were shown that learning could be fun.

I also ensured that stationary was available, that they left their jotters in the classroom after lessons, unless they had homework. By making the lessons more accessible to pupils they would look forward to lessons, as they knew they would be in an environment they enjoy and therefore are more willing to learn. In fully inclusive schools, the “mainstream teachers should have self-belief about ‘their own power to take positive action in response to children’s learning’ than to be restrained by special education thinking” (Hart 1996).

If teachers do not believe that they can educate every pupil, no matter what their disability or learning difficulty, then they cannot expect the pupil, who needs additional support, to learn and be a high achiever in that subject. The National Framework for Inclusion helps support teachers and aims to give children with ASN better classroom support. In addition, teachers need the facilities and tools to be able to cater for all children, for example in subjects such as physics and physical education, there are barriers to learning that need to be broken down.

In order for me to be an effective teacher, I have to ensure that I cater for the needs of all pupils in the classroom. “There are unequal education and health outcomes for people depending on where they live; and where discrimination and disadvantage still affect the lives of women, people from minority ethnic communities, disabled people and people of different sexual orientation” (Closing the Opportunity Gap, 2003-2006). The opportunities of children who are from deprived backgrounds, different ethnicity or sexual orientation should not be different to those who are from more prosperous backgrounds.

It is the duty of teachers to include all children and give them the same advantages and quality education as everyone, which is why the role of an effective teacher is important in inclusive education. To conclude, inclusion in schools is a key priority in Scottish education and has been in motion in Scotland since the 1974 Education (Mentally Handicapped Children) (Scotland) Act. Since then, there have been many other Acts to help children who require additional support needs in Scotland.

A “fully inclusive” school is one that I believe integrates children through the curriculum; physically and socially, no matter what their additional support needs may be. Children who require ASN will be given the support they need by the introduction of an additional support worker. Social inclusion should be built into the school’s ethos and wheelchair access and lifts should be built in the school. Furthermore, children who require ASN should not be taken out of class, but allowed to integrate in the classroom with classmates, which is why the role of the additional support worker is important.

Finally, physical inclusion is where children are physically integrated into classroom with those children who do not require any additional support. Physical inclusion should focus on building inclusion into the school community and improving the learning experience for pupils and teaching experience for teachers. Physically including pupils from poorer or ethnic backgrounds can be difficult, if the family is unable to purchase uniforms. In order to tackle this government has funded clothing grants for families to help them buy uniforms for children who cannot afford them.

Furthermore, the introduction of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has boosted the attendance of those children (post-16) from poorer backgrounds and has then improved the chances of that child receiving a better education. This offers the child the same opportunity as those children with a higher income background. I believe this is the concept of a “fully inclusive school”, and is important in helping children receive the best education possible. With inclusion being such a big topic, there advantages and disadvantages.

If children are integrated with those who don’t require ASN, their social skills may improve, and mainstream pupils can learn first hand about the different types of learning difficulties which may reduce bullying. In contrast, teachers have to be given the tools to be able to teach children with ASN effectively for them to receive the best education possible. Schemes which allow children from low income families to buy uniforms, help make them feel included in the school and part of the school community, and they are less likely to be bullied, therefore more likely to come to school.

However, with the education budget being cut, there is a question as to whether the councils will be able to continue to pay for support workers for every pupil that needs them. However, parents of children that have a disability may feel reluctant to let their child be put into an inclusive school, because they might be more susceptible to bullying. Children with behavioral difficulties could prove to be difficult and disruptive in classes, but if they have an additional support worker, they can take them out of class minimal disruption to the class however they will be missing out in education.

Finally, an inclusive school should have clubs and subjects that can include everyone. Students that require wheelchairs or crutches should be included in all physical education, so funding is needed for equipment so that students can all partake in classes and are not excluded. The role of an effective teacher is important in inclusion. Children need a teacher who is supportive and approachable who is aware of their needs and willing to listen to problems they may have. This is the most effective way teacher can help pupils or get additional support for pupils. It is the duty of the teacher to provide the best education possible to all pupils. Subjects should be more open to all genders and races, therefore teachers must find ways to make the subject more appealing and open abilities and believe that they are instrumental in closing the opportunity gap in education. Finally, the National Framework for Inclusion helps support teachers and children with ASN by giving them better classroom support and improving their chances of academic success.

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