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Inclusion Now Articles Issue 1

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We Must Be Heard - A Black Parent Speaks Out about Inclusion

Mixed Ability Teaching - An Inclusive Model?

Bill Makes Slow Progress - SEN & Disability Bill

Government Ombudsman rules against Camden LEA

Count Me In - Video Resource

The Inclusion Assistant - Helping Young People with High Level Support Needs

Take Up Thy Bed and Walk - Book Review

Handling the Regulations - Service Users Fight Back (Re: Manual Handling)

So Beautiful as a Piece of Gold - Siblings' tales

Atlantis - training disabled teachers

 


We Must be Heard - a Black Parent speaks out

By Maureen Johnson
As a carer of a child with disabilities, I think the thing I would like to say about the importance of inclusion for me is that inclusion is a basic human rights issue, and to me it brings a real emphasis and importance to the understanding of equal opportunities. As a black person I've experienced very much the different forms of oppression. I would just like to give a small example. People often say "I don't really understand your experience because I am not a carer, or I don't have a personal disability", but long before I had a child myself, I used to work for children who were described as disadvantaged, they had just come out of care or they had family backgrounds which were problematic, and I felt this was a very virtuous job to do. I was working with a young girl, most of the children were black, though there were quite a lot of white children. The young girl I worked with had a brother, they were often very close together, very quiet, very well dressed and well presented, and I often wondered why they were there actually, because they weren't like the other children. One day we took them out to a playground and we bought them all an ice cream, and they were all really excited to get this ice cream at the end of the day, and they were saying things like "One each? Can we have one each?" and we said "Yes, sure, one each". Being playful with this little girl I said to her "I'd like a bit of your ice cream" and grabbed it from her and bit a bit out of it and gave it back to her and she was SO UPSET. I was really surprised, I mean I had been very playful, I had known her for quite a while and I had always tried to be one of the girls and play with her. I never really regained her trust and close relationship from that point on. Years later I was sent a newspaper clipping which told the story of a single parent mum and her two children, a boy and a girl, who died of hypothermia in the particularly cold winter. The sender was a colleague who recognized that it was this girl and her family. The reason why they had died was because they were so poorly nourished. The mother chose to pay off her debts rather than spend a lot of money on clothes and food and heating. I remember after reading that feeling really sad about their loss and about their death and about the relationship I had had with them, and really just how I had totally misunderstood their position in society. I saw them as not really having a problem to fit into society. I had remained really ignorant, I had never thought to look any deeper. I just did my job. I didn't care really to look into their circumstances. I didn't ask her "Would you like me to have a piece of your ice cream?" and waited for her response and respected it if she had said "No." I feel it relates to my present situation where quite often my son isn't asked what he would like in situations, people don't wait to hear his response, they don't try to facilitate his full involvement, his full communication, because they don't really see the full picture, and they don't see him as really being that important, it's a job to them. But I can collude with that in that I can really struggle on my own and not ask for help, not speak up for him sometimes when he is not being heard, when he is being ignored and say "Look this isn't right, you can't ignore him, he has a right to be heard". One of the reasons we do this as black people is quite often because we bring with us a lot of shame about not coping, we've come from a place where we've had to fight for recognition and a presence and understanding and acceptance, and we have to continue to be strong and be powerful, and be cool and detached, and its very hard to talk about your weaknesses. Other people in our society can find it shameful if you have a child with a disability, with an impairment, and you can fight against it, but sometimes you can feel you are taking on board some of that as well. I am aware, however, that there are a growing number of us who are challenging this, who are finding strength in speaking up for our children, who are saying that this is part of our fight, this is part of the fight of black people, its part of our strength to say that we must be heard, we must be seen, we must be taken into account, we have something of value to contribute, and its not that hearing what we've got to say or including us will benefit just us, but that it will benefit you as well, that the qualities we have to offer are phenomenal, are amazing, and only by including us can you benefit, as we can benefit, so thank you very much. Speech at the Lambeth Inclusion Workshop, run by Parents for Inclusion, Nov 1999

 

Mixed Ability Teaching - An inclusive Model?

How does mixed ability teaching assist an inclusive model of education? In recent years, there seems to be a movement away from mixed ability teaching and back to the older, more 'traditional' models of streaming and setting. This is a direct response to three main factors: the pressure put on schools from public tests which start as young as seven years old; the league tables which publish these results in the national press; and, OFSTED reports which can change a school's reputation by declaring it a success or 'naming and shaming'. 'Mixed ability' teaching has as its basic principle the understanding that all children have differing talents and skills and therefore the teacher's responsibility is to fit learning materials to the learning needs of each student. On the other hand, 'streaming' relies on the results of tests to determine fixed groups. In a streamed school, students are likely to be in one class for all their subjects, regardless of the fact that a student might be at different stages in different subjects. 'Setting' is a slightly more flexible version of streaming but also uses test results. Mixed ability grouping is undoubtedly challenging for the teacher, but it forces them to acknowledge that within each class there are individual students who learn and develop in different ways. At its best, it encourages imaginative ways of working which enable children to draw off each other's strengths. Collaborative learning works best in a mixed ability classroom because there is greater flexibility to organise students into a variety of supportive groups. In a well organised mixed ability class, everybody has something to offer and nobody needs to be left out. It's true that some subjects lend themselves more easily to mixed ability teaching and others like languages or science, which lead to fixed, content based examinations might seem to require some form of setting. But even in these subjects, decisions don't have to be made years before the students will sit these exams. Some schools seem to be using anxiety about their exam results to 'set' students from the minute they start their secondary education. Mixed ability teaching should be sustained for as long as possible, giving young people the opportunity to develop alongside their peers. Those who argue in favour of streaming or selective education are almost always the ones who imagine their children in the top class or the 'best' school. In the real world of exams, test results and competition, only 10% of children will achieve this and the rest must settle for an education which is inferior and limited. Students are much more likely to stay motivated and enthusiastic about learning if they are taught in a situation where their achievement is valued and where they feel included. Mary Phillips and Lois Keith (both practitioners of mixed ability teaching for many years!)

 

Bill makes slow progress

As we go to press the new SEN and Disability Bill is slowly grinding its way through the Lords before coming back to the House of Commons. The debates in the Lords ranged from very enlightened to appallingly ignorant but things are beginning to look hopeful. Indeed with a General Election seeming imminent, we were becoming afraid that the Bill would run out of time. However, it is an ill wind that blows no good, the dreadful Foot and Mouth crisis will delay the election and probably allow the Bill to become Law. For the first time the Bill recognises that disabled young people can be the target of discrimination by and within the education system. People will have to justify any treatment of disabled young people which could be considered 'less favourable' than other young people. This will apply to admissions policies, school events, access to the curriculum and examinations. Hopefully the need to comply with the new legislation will encourage schools to take the time to do training, read and watch materials of Disability Equality and Inclusion. The Bill, once in the statute book, is a framework which we can improve and strengthen with everyone's help. In the next issue we will hopefully be able to report on the details of the final Bill and celebrate a great achievement.

 

Local Government Ombudsman rules against Camden LEA

Having fought a long and difficult battle to get my daughter Zahrah (aged 13), who is disabled, into a mainstream secondary school, I am pleased that my complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman against the delays by Camden LEA has been upheld. I hope this will mean that disabled children and their parents will have more confidence in asking for a mainstream school place and that the LEA will listen more carefully to their views. In our case, Zahrah lost out on her schooling and I was subjected to considerable stress as I waited month after month for the LEA to issue a statement. I am delighted that our terrible experience has helped the LEA move on and make better provision for disabled children - I think it is a fundamental denial of human rights that so many disabled children are still segregated in special schools against their and their parents wishes. It is not just a local issue but at national level, the SEN and Disability Bill that is currently going through parliament, it is hoped will also address this injustice and give the chance for disabled children and their families to live more normal lives in society. Preethi Manuel


Count Me In

Last summer I was privileged to visit twelve schools around England and Wales which had and were developing inclusive practice. This was in my role as Associate Producer on 'Count Me In' for Channel 4. The films, 2 x 30 minutes- The Big Picture and Teachers- were jointly funded by the DfEE and Channel 4. The idea was developed over 4 years by myself and Sally Wells of Arcadian who produced and directed the films. The films are aimed at mainstream teachers and others with an interest in inclusion. By talking to teachers, pupils, parents and educationalists about their experience of inclusion and filming in schools where it is happening, they develop the understanding of the audience that inclusion is happening in many schools and that it is nothing out of the ordinary. Inclusion is seen to be more than addressing barriers in teaching and learning, the physical environment, or developing sensory or communication support. Inclusion is seen to be about addressing existing attitudes and prejudices and to be an opportunity to restructure teaching and learning so all children can participate in the full life of the school and learn. The importance of developing emotional intelligence is also highlighted in effective ways of including children with challenging behaviour and those who are isolated or vulnerable to exclusionary pressures. A number of the most common concerns teachers raised are answered with examples of good practice from the schools we visited. The films have been well received when first transmitted in January 2001 and at a screening and launch held at the Inclusion Centre in Vauxhall on 26th January 2001. They will be screened again by Channel 4 on Wednesday 16th May 2001 from 5pm to 6pm. SNAP SHOTS Rawthorpe High School, Huddersfield Rawthorpe High School in Huddersfield is a small secondary school with just under 500 pupils and about 60 have statements of SEN. 30 of these pupils were labelled as having learning difficulties. Kirklees LEA and Barnardos ran an inclusion project at the school to include pupils with learning difficulties as very few pupils with learning difficulties were successfully transferring from primary to secondary schools. Debbie Rolls head of inclusion says:- "at first it was more integration because it was conditional upon the learning support assistant being there for a particular child. We've now moved to a model where the support is there, to support the curriculum (LSA's are attached to different subject areas).Children are able to access learning through the support being in place. In our last OFSTED inspection (2 years ago) this was seen as a real strength and the LSA's were praised for the way they were able to differentiate work and meet the needs of a large variety of pupils in the classroom. Standards at the school have risen since the inclusion project. The number of pupils gaining 5 A*- G grades has reached 95% with all Year 11 pupils on the project getting 6 GCSE's. The feeling across the school is that the presence of more support has been beneficial to all children in the school." Lister Community School, Newham. Lister is a secondary school which is resourced for deaf students. The school has groups of deaf pupils in one class in each of Years 7,8,9. There are sign interpreters in every one of these classes lessons. The school also employs deaf adults as sign language instructors to develop the deaf students sign language. All pupils get some basic sign language in modern languages and there are clubs at lunch time and after school for hearing pupils to learn sign language. Jill Kirk who is the teacher for the Deaf at the school says . "It is really important we don't ignore the whole thing around deaf culture and the deaf community. Here deaf pupils are getting the benefit of being together as sign language users and at the same time they feel at home in the hearing world". Brookside School, Stockport. Stockport decided to move towards inclusion and has additionally resourced a number of primary schools to meet the needs of pupils with 'severe and profound learning difficulties'. The building was adapted for physical access and additional teaching and support staff were appointed. The school currently has seven such pupils in five different classes. The children remain in their peer groups as they move up the school with their friends. The pupils are an essential part of making the inclusion work by supporting and accepting the disabled pupils as equals. Again achievement in the school has gone up and the pupils with learning difficulties are achieving things they would never have done in the old school for severe learning difficulties. Hogarth Primary School, Nottingham The school welcomes all pupils from its diverse inner city catchment. Through individual programmes of work, counselling, additional support and cirles of friends a wide diversity of pupils are included. School policiy states:- "We will, through carefully planned programmes of work, help each child realise his or her true potential within an environment which nurtures spiritual, moral, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, cultural and physical growth" "We will educate and develop all our pupils whatever their sex,colour, origin, religion, social status, ability or disability through equality of opportunity" "We will encourage, through the learning opportunities provided, the development of skills and attitudes to enable each individual to contribute to society in a positive way" "At all times we shall seek to foster a partnership with parents, carers and the local community." "We will encourage everyone within our school community to treat each other with respect and good manners and show concern for the environment" I watched Karl who has a learning difficulty and autism with his circle of friends. It was clear he had made significant progress in taking part in class activities and playing with other children due to the support he had got from his peers in his circle. It was also clear that other children with challenging behaviour had benefited themselves from being in Karl's circle. Richard Rieser
'Count Me In' is available on video for £10 plus £1.50 postage from: Disability Equality in Education, Unit 4Q Leroy House, 436 Essex Road, London N1 3QP.


The Inclusion Assistant: Helping Young People with High Level Support Needs in Mainstream Education.

A consultation with Young Disabled People and their Parents.
There is widespread agreement that Learning Support Assistants play a vital role in the inclusion of young disabled people in mainstream education. There is agreement also that this role has been undervalued and that something needs to change. However, research and proposals into their role, training and management is moving in the direction of attaching them to teachers and classrooms, instead of individual young people. They are to be re-named 'Teacher Assistants'. For young people with high level support needs this simply will not work. These young people already have to fight the hardest to be placed in mainstream schools and to be adequately supported. Their voice was absent from the research. So the Alliance for Inclusive Education felt the need to make sure their experience and thinking was made known to all policy makers before disaster struck. We brought together eleven young people with high-level support needs at a residential weekend at Ashwellthorpe Hall in Norwich. Each young person had one parent and an assistant / interpreter, so the parents and the young people could work in separate workshops. The young people were asked what made an 'LSA from Heaven', and then an 'LSA from Hell'. After much discussion, they wrote and video'd a Charter for Learning Support Assistants. Whilst they were preparing their Charter, the parents met and were asked a series of questions about their role in the recruitment, training and management of their child's assistants. It became apparent that none of the young people would have been in mainstream school if it were not for the voluntary labour of at least one parent, many of whom had stopped work in order to support the placement. Indeed, at the time of the weekend, two of the young people were not in school at all. Parents felt that they were undervalued as trainers of LSAs, but overly relied upon to plug all the holes in their child's provision. This ranged from fundraising for their salaries, training LSAs in Facilitated Communication, Computer skills, lifting and personal care, how to implement Individual Education Plans, using communication aids and understanding how to support their children's friendships. Many of the parents had 'stood in' for absent LSAs or been forced to keep their child at home because the LSA was ill or had left. All the parents felt that the poor pay, lack of training and low status led to a rapid turnover of uncommitted staff, and this left a huge ongoing task for both the child and the parent to be constantly bringing on new recruits. Parents and young people felt also that teachers did not understand the role of the LSAs or how to work collaboratively with them. This is made worse by the lack of paid planning time for such collaborations to happen. Key amongst the recommendations from the weekend is that a new role of 'Inclusion Assistant' be developed for young people with high level support needs, which is additionally resourced. This role needs to be based on the principles of independent living developed by the Disability Movement. Within this framework, the child has increasing control over who provides personal assistance, what they do and how they do it. The role is primarily to facilitate the child's participation in the demands of their life. This can involve personal care, use of technological aids, translating, scribing, moving around, keeping safe, and making friends. Most young people need a team of two or three assistants to take turns, as the intensity of the work within a busy school day is too much for one person. However, more than this number was highly counterproductive. It is commonly thought that it is because of this intense and highly skilled support that young people who are 'Severely or Profoundly Disabled' are better served in Special Schools. Our experience shows that this group of young people are not served well anywhere, because the expectations for their future is so low. Several of the young people at the weekend had transferred from special schools to mainstream schools because they felt that they were simply being prepared for an institutional life, a life they were not prepared to accept. The weekend was both alarming, in the degree to which it uncovered deeply unsatisfactory practice, but also exciting in that we can begin to describe in detail the new infrastructure which must be built in every LEA for inclusion to become a reality for all children, not only those with full-time warrior parents. A full report and video has been made of the weekend, which we launched on March 10th at our Centre in London. The report pack (including video) is available at an all inclusive price of £10 from the Alliance for Inclusive Education. Please write enclosing a cheque made out to 'The Alliance for Inclusive Education'

 

Take up thy bed and walk

Death, Disability & Cure In Classic Fiction for Girls by Lois Keith published by The Women's Press 2001 £11.99 paperback Review by Christine Wilson
What Katy Did, Heidi, The Secret Garden and Pollyanna are all classic novels featuring a miracle cure - a character who literally gets up and walks away from illness or paralysis. Such stories were commonplace in the second half of the 19th century and, implicit in them was the idea that disability and physical suffering were a punishment for wrongdoing. Girls who got into scrapes could not enter womanhood unless they were tamed, and an accident was the perfect plot device through which this could be accomplished. Other characters, like Beth in Little Women were simply too good to live, and died so that another character could be redeemed by their example.
For me, the publication of Lois Keith's compelling critique of the representation of disability in classic Victorian children's fiction is a cause for multiple celebrations. Firstly I think we should all cheer its rightful place in the mainstream of literary criticism heralded by a complimentary half page review in a Saturday edition of 'The Guardian' and an interview with Lois on Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour'. The more we get these ideas out into the public domain the better, say I! Until recently there has been little general academic interest in the widespread use and significance of disability as a dramatic or narrative device, and certainly, not much (if any) which approaches it from a disability equality perspective. Here at last, though, is a cogent and well-argued analysis of the genre from a writer who underpins her thesis with the authority of her own experience as a disabled woman and activist. Lois' detailed retelling of the classic stories is helpful for readers like myself who grew up not reading, or even interested in the genre. As a child I often wondered what gripped my friends who raved about "What Katy Did" and "Little Women". Domestic drama left me cold, unlike "boy's" stories and myths and legends from around the world. It wasn't until I read "Jane Eyre" at about 13 that I could find any grounds for identification with a Victorian heroine. But "Jane Eyre" is exceptional in the context of Lois' argument because it was written for an adult audience and not as a "tool to shape the young to the needs of that society." However, Lois is right to focus on Jane's childhood. For me, that part of the novel had the greatest impact when I first read it because it was Jane's childhood alienation that resonated with my own experience of institutionalisation and sense of being an outsider. Because most of the books Lois explores, except "Jane Eyre" and "The Secret Garden" were unfamiliar to me, I realised, with a sense of relief as I read on, that what I'd missed was growing up internalising some pretty damaging stereotypes. Lois also unearths the roots of other concepts and images of disability that continue to have a tenacious hold on the national psyche. One is the notion that the individual is to blame for their impairment because of some inherent psychological or moral flaw but the exertion of willpower can bring about a cure. All it needs for them to "take up their bed and walk" is that they should love themselves / be obedient / put other people first. Lois goes on to spell out how, today, a close variation on these ideas continue to be broadcast by high profile disabled people like the actor Christopher Reeve. One of the great merits of "Take Up Thy Bed And Walk" is its attention to detail. She makes some sharp comments that made me laugh out loud, notably: "Few would try to cure chicken pox with willpower, yet for mysterious diseases like cancer, and even for incurable conditions like spinal cord injury, such interpretations thrive." Those of us who are teachers or trainers now have a comprehensive source of excellent examples to illustrate many of the points we might want to make about the cultural history of disability. I don't agree with Lyn Gardner in 'The Guardian' when she chides Lois for "seemingly being resigned to the fact that disabled people will continue to be relegated to the realm of metaphor." I think Gardner has missed a very important point. It's actually the kind of discussion that Lois has presented - informed by feminist theory and disability politics - that exposes the roots of stereotyped ideas about disability and helps bring disabled people out of the "second fiddle" position and into the centre of the narrative and life. Chris Wilson

 

Handling the Regulations - Service Users fight back

Some people at work kept dropping heavy boxes. A small piece of legislation brought in to see if equipment, or better lifting techniques could help, has snowballed, solidified and is now rolling all over human services. A box however does not need rights, it does not feel pain, become isolated, frightened, or powerless. Human beings do feel all these things, but when it comes to being lifted, we have no more rights than those heavy boxes. We are called 'animate loads' and are being subjected to ever more inhumane policies in the name of manual handling regulations. The Council for Disabled Children recently hosted a meeting bringing together members of the voluntary sector including the Alliance, Barnardos, The Children's Society, and the National Centre for Independent Living with the Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive. Jane Campbell of NCIL chaired the meeting. Research shows that within family based short break services, 41% are suspending existing placements and 66% were unable to provide new placements because of lifting and handling issues*; disabled children are being forced to go to boarding schools because of lack of assistance at home; teenagers in school are being told to wear nappies because they can no longer be lifted on the toilet; children are not being put into standing frames or even lifted back into their wheelchairs when they have fallen out**. Disabled adults are ringing the NCIL helpline in great distress because Personal Assistants are refusing to lift, although no-lifting policies have never been recommended by either Europe, the Royal College of Nursing or the Health and Safety Executive, all of whom have been blamed. It was agreed at the meeting that: Equipment, whilst useful, will never eliminate the need for lifting in community settings That the person being lifted should have some say about how that should happen That equipment is often unavailable, expensive, unsuitable or breaks down Most services do not have a budget for equipment and little money for training in risk assessment or lifting and handling techniques That the ability to lift certain weights can be a requirement in a job description (like the ability to drive - a far more statistically risky activity) That some current non-lifting policies are probably in contravention of the Disability Discrimination Act. On this last point a member of the Disability Rights Commission agreed to get a 'Legal Opinion' on one or two test cases. Everyone at the meeting agreed to be part of a working group to help produce acceptable guidelines for service providers which would acknowledge that a person is not a box, a school is not a hospital, and Insurance companies cannot run the world. Micheline Mason *Ref.: 'The Effect of the Manual Handling Regulations of family based short break services', Vicky Jones & Christine Lenehan, Shared Care Network, Aug 2000 **Ref.: 'Manual Handling Policy', a discussion paper by Preethi Manuel, Jan 1999

 

So Beautiful as a Piece of Gold

by Michael and Ellen Goodey
Ellen
My sister's name is Ellen. She has Down's Syndrome. I, her friends and family don't find anything different or wrong with her. I mean, she isn't different from any other girl her age. She goes to a comprehensive school, has a lot of friends, likes chart music and has a boyfriend etc. She enjoys school, does well and has big hopes. She likes to be independent and it really gets on her nerves when people make a fuss over her. She enjoys life a lot (why shouldn't she?) and doesn't worry much about anything. That just rounds up Ellen. Michael J Goodey

Dear Pippa and Jill
Ellen took a look at Michael's contribution to the book and decided to write something herself. I am enclosing it with 'conventional spelling' version (her school's way of putting it). All the best, Chris Goodey

Michael
My berths name is michael I cun tell his hobis are fotboll gerik planno he liks play ign out he gos to a good school he einjays life he is relly exited heis 12 and no boy is like my berth he is good looking and no difnt michael has a iot of fiends he is not tlat tipof boy ttat runs er way he liks coke a lot but sell he duses make the werld so buttfol as a piss of gode. My brother's name is Michael. I can tell his hobbies are football, Greek, piano. He likes playing out. He goes to a good school. He enjoys life. He is really excited. He is 12, and no boy is like my brother. He is good looking and no different. Michael has a lot of friends. He is not that type of boy that runs away. He likes Coke a lot. But still he does make the world so beautiful as a piece of gold. Ellen Goodey Reproduced from 'Telling Our own Stories - Reflections on family life in a disabling world', a collection of writing edited by Pippa Murray and Jill Penman. Available from Parents with Attitude, PO Box 1727, Sheffield S11 8WS. Price £8.00 plus £1.50 p&p

 

Atlantis

Gil Cleeton
I have obtained a grant from the European Social Fund for a project called ATLANTIS, which means 'Accelerated Teaching and Learning in the Teacher-Shortage subjects for people with disabilities'. The teacher-shortage subjects are Mathematics, Science, Languages, Design and Technology, and Information Technology. People with disabilities are vastly under-represented in teaching.The project is free to participants, who would not lose their existing allowances. The project aims to help people to train to become teachers, either by: Giving preliminary training to access formal training Introducing them to a degree in one of the teacher-shortage subjects Introducing them to an education degree Introducing them to a postgraduate certificate in education Helping them to transfer training to one of the teacher-shortage subjects The project would: Improve entry grades for teacher training Help with lesson preparation during training Provide adaptive hardware and software Provide mentoring during training Provide distance-learning materials Provide foreign language translation software Provide materials from the National Grid for Learning Show people with disabilities doing effective teaching Many Government incentives are available to participants e.g. Golden Hello and Fast-Track programmes and of course the existing DSA - Disabled Students' Allowance. Salary may be paid during training. Experience and skills are counted for entry, as well as qualifications. Part- and Full-time flexible timetables are available. It is highly likely that people would obtain a secure job at the end of teacher training. Further details available from Gil Cleeton, Manchester Metropolitan University. Email: gcleeton@hotmail.com Tel: 01785 823 126 Fax, Answerphone and VoiceMail: 0870 122 6715