Inclusion Now Articles Issue 18
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One of the many great things about working at the Alliance is the opportunities it creates to visit schools who are putting inclusion into practice. One of those golden opportunities came my way just before the Summer holidays when I visited Tuckswood Community Primary School in Norfolk.
At the time of my visit Tuckswood was a first school for children between the ages of four and eight. It has now become a primary school under new leadership from Susan Banbury.
When I was there in July Sue Eagle was the fantastic and inspiring Head Teacher and there is no doubt that the extraordinary feeling of welcome as you walk through the school door is down to her leadership, with the support of her staff team whose enthusiasm secretly made me feel I'd made the wrong career choice and instead that I should have gone into teaching.
Inclusion at Tuckswood is unquestioned and reaches far further than disabled children and those with SEN labels. These young people are happily included but so are children with 'challenging behaviour' labels and because the school is close to a community of travellers, their children and young people are given an equal welcome too.
Ever conscious of the prejudice surrounding the traveller community, earlier in the year, Sue and her team decided to organise a day where the traveller children could bring their animals to school so they could tell the other children about their lives and the skills they have in looking after their animals.
As you can see from the photos, parents, horses and even puppies
descended on the school much to the delight of the children. The traveller
children were also given disposable cameras to take to their site and brought
back photos of their trailers to share with the other children. This has proved
to be a huge success with all the children understanding that whatever skills
and life experience that you bring, it is all of equal value. There is also
greater understanding that the school community is richer because of the diversity
of its children and young people.
Sue and her team, I'm sure, would be the first to agree that nothing is ever perfect, but that having a 'can do' approach is what often identifies the solution to even the most challenging of problems.
I got the sense that Tuckswood has become the last resort for some children. Sue told me that they accepted young people who had been excluded from a number of other schools. Many of those young people were very hurt and angry about how they had been treated and this was often reflected in their behaviour on their arrival at Tuckswood. But, what makes Tuckswood the place that it is, is the response it offers to these young people.
Incorporated into the school is something called a Nurture classroom where ANY of the children can go if they're upset or have been disruptive or maybe are just having a difficult day. The Nurture Classroom has soft seating in it, it's got a small rug on the floor and curtains at the window. There's a small kitchen and a table and chairs. You get the feeling that you could be in anyone's house and not in a busy school - and that's the point. It creates an opportunity for children to learn through similar experiences to those that many experience at home: cooking, sharing a meal, watching television together.
I had a chance to talk to the wonderful woman who runs the nurture classroom at Tuckswood, who is called Jenny Hawker and she talked about the many children who had arrived at Tuckswood who had lost all interest in learning and had lost their trust in adults and over a period of time spent working in the nurture classroom environment were now back in the regular classes with their peers.
Jenny believes that for the majority of children who spend
time with her, what is really needed is a chance to feel loved and valued
and it's clear that she does everything she can to offer that as part of the
nurture classroom experience.
Sue and her team believe that education and learning is the right of all children and that includes Philosophy and Massage. It is clear that the children respond to the aspirational nature of teaching staff as their thoughts and feelings about life are displayed on many of the school walls.
Back in July, Tuckswood School was already working on its Disability Equality Scheme (not legally obliged to publish it until December 2007) and the whole school were getting involved. They have run some consultation sessions and all the children have had an opportunity to say what they think needs to happen to help people feel equal and included. You can see from the drawing that this ranges from 'need more play equipment' to 'always have hugs' - I'm all for the last one!
The Alliance has had a long friendship with Tuckswood and they were one of our 'shining examples of inclusion' in "Snapshots of Possibilities". The Tuckswood commitment to inclusion is continuing to be right across the board.
Sue has now moved on to great things at the School Improvement Partnership and we wish her every success.
I also look forward to meeting Susan Banbury, the new Head at Tuckswood and our continued friendship with Tuckswood - the Inclusive jewel of the east!
I'd like to say a big thank you to all the staff at Tuckswood who made me feel so welcome. I absolutely loved my visit because along with the many other great inclusive schools we know about, it is putting our vision for an inclusive future for ALL, into practice.
So if I haven't been to your school already, please invite
me, I'd love to come!
In September of this year the four lead organisations within
the Inclusion Movement in the UK decided to create a new consortium together
in order to provide a stronger, collective voice to promote inclusive education
to a wider audience.
Mission Statement and Principles
Inclusion UK is a consortium of organisations working together
for social change for disabled people and their families.
Inclusion UK's vision is of a genuinely inclusive future for all our children and young people.
Inclusion UK will continue to defend the right of disabled children and young people to inclusive education in mainstream schools, and holds that barriers to inclusion are not to be identified in the child and their impairment but in the social and attitudinal barriers in the education system. This 'social model' draws on the thinking of disabled people and underpins all inclusive education.
Inclusion UK member organisations together bring a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience that demonstrate that inclusion works.
In December 2006 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This was adopted by the United Kingdom on 30th March 2007. Article 24 clearly commits the Government to developing an inclusive education system.
As we know, there is ample evidence of the success of inclusive education in the UK and around the world. However, it is necessary to recognise that the development of effective inclusive education requires the transformation of mainstream schools to remove barriers of attitude, organisation and environment and to provide the necessary support so all students can be successful academically and socially in achieving their potential. Such a process requires capacity building and training of teachers, staff, parents and the community and the necessary investment of time and money. The development of inclusion should not be confused with 'integration' where disabled students/pupils are placed in mainstream settings, but although often supported, the establishment remains unchanged. It is also necessary to recognise that education in separate classes or schools constitutes segregated education and often denies disabled students access to their peers, personal development and to academic success.
As a collaborative partnership Inclusion UK will seize existing opportunities and create new ones to further our shared aim of an inclusive education, as a right, for ALL learners.
Inclusion must be a right for ALL children and young people
in every aspect of their lives - in all settings and community activities.
An inclusive beginning, school life, and transition to adulthood are pre-requisites
for the Government vision of 'equality of opportunity for ALL disabled people
by 2025' because it provides individuals with the tools to become equal citizens
for the future.
The new consortium wants to build relationships with new allies across the sectors of equality and diversity, disability rights, children's rights and across the NGO world to promote a shared vision of inclusion for all our children.
Dedicated to Sophie, Kirsty, Joe, Tom, Chloe, Kitty, Anya, Ellen, Charlotte, Nick, Sonny, Luke and Ruby who have all touched my life in different ways and helped me to understand what it means to be fully human.
I am glad to be able to report
To Messrs Darwin, Galton, Churchill and Down
Hitler and the Third Reich
That your mission was a failure.
Though you tried so hard to
With your learned accomplices
To believe in your nightmare
Requiring the extermination of
The Flawed have nonetheless flowered.
Protected from your twisted plan
By unstoppable love,
Now released from the ghettos
People with Down's Syndrome
And other endangered treasures
Are rising up all over the world
Getting uppity and visible
Artists and poets,
Actors and dancers,
Some quiet and thoughtful,
Some noisy and fun,
A teacher, every one
You could say in fact
That your horrible experiment
Has not simply failed
But gloriously backfired!
Parents all fired up
With fierce and defensive love
For their targeted children
Have joined arms with the Flawed
And other progressive forces
To insist on inclusion for all
Replacing your elitist ideals
Of Empire and Might -
Britain forever Ruling the Waves -
With a different dream
Taking hold in many places
Of a slower, more gentle world
In which being born human
To evoke awe, wonder and respect
From each to all
The end of competition,
The start of collaboration
A bottom-up revolution
Heralding a new world
In which it is safe for all of us
To be our selves.
Micheline met with us in Nottingham in September 2005 with
the idea of setting up a 'Midlands Alliance for Inclusion'.
We met again in September 2006 and since then have met approximately every three months, so have had four meetings altogether.
Our average number of people each time has been between 12-15
and we have discussed a lot about schools, especially when Brandon is there,
as he keeps us up to date on what is actually happening on the ground, being
in year 5 last year and moving up to year 6 this September.
We have also had a representative from the Direct Payments Support Service to talk about supporting personal assistants in schools and the problems all of that entails.
In March of this year, Keith brought some new people from Derby, and in June we met new people from Leicester and Nottingham. It was one of the newcomers who encouraged us to look at where we were at and where we were going, which led us to meet for longer in June and do the graphic (pictured below) charting why we want to meet. The main reasons we came up with are:-
A space for disabled adults to tell their story
Helping non-disabled parents to understand the oppression of disabled people
A safe place to hang it all out, and a place to be positive and what we are going to do with it all
A space to spend time with people who share your values
A space to explore what can be possible - sharing stories
For most of us the meetings have been a time to catch up with
each other and hear about what is going on in the education system and beyond.
It is a place where we can appreciate what is going on and encourage each
other to challenge when needed. It is also a safe place to talk about where
we are struggling and finding things hard especially for disabled young people.
There are groups of people all over the Midlands trying to improve the lives of young people. Sometimes we don't know about each other, so this has been a way to find out more about what is happening.
On Saturday September 29th we met at LCIL in Leicester, and our discussion centered around meeting the needs of all children. If this was really done ALL children, whatever their needs, would automatically be well thought about.
HEYA is a youth led organisation established in 2005. We hope to work closely with ALLFIE and DEE to more fully represent the views and opinions of young people within the Inclusion Movement. (HEYA stands for 'Helping Empower Youth Activism')
We are run as a collective and have been involved in many projects supporting inclusion. We have a newly developed team of young adult trainers and facilitators. We are also aiming to set up a children's steering committee.
Some of our projects include consultation sessions with young disabled people, anti-racism campaigns, support for detained refugees, particularly children and families.
HEYA also participated in the creation of the Articles relevant for children and young people in the new UN Disability Rights Convention. We have recently been involved in training 'Department for Children, Schools and Families' (formerly DfES) policymakers on inclusion and the importance of child participation.
HEYA aims to be a creative and dynamic collective who employ the tools of music, theatre and art, as well as more traditional forms of consultation. We are currently involved in making a documentary film on inclusive education and other various media projects.
If you are a young person aged between 5 and 30 and are passionate
about inclusion then please contact us to find out how to get involved. We
are open to all, including allies.
Or contact HEYA c/o ALLFIE
(details on back page)
I know that inclusion works by looking at the disabled kids that went to mainstream school. As well as being mostly better educated, I have noticed some differences between special and mainstream young people from my peers and from kids that are still at school. Children at mainstream school turn out to be more street wise and more aware young adults who think the world is their oyster card! On the other hand, I find special school people much better behaved young gentlemen and gentlewomen who don't want to cause a fuss about accessing the able-bodied world and who are ever so grateful for a freedom pass.
This hypothesis of mine is no way set in stone but I think a major part of it is how children relate to able-bodied people at school. At special school, it is all about disability and making the inmates happy and comfortable by caring for them, but in mainstream, especially secondary, school it is raw, rough and sharp edged for all students, who might have other issues to deal with, such as homophobia and racism. In my experience, that put my cerebral palsy in perspective and taught me how to react to the world as a young woman. This also prepares kids for adult life, this varied and challenging society that disabled people must be included in. A special nice and gentle place only prepares kids for a special nice and gentle place like a day centre!
In case anybody was wondering, putting disabled children in
a bog standard school with as little as possible, or even less, support and
expecting them to achieve is called integration. Expecting some one who writes
slowly and uses a lot of energy to answer every question out of 45 even if
you are sure that she understands the idea after the fourth question, just
because that is what every kid in the room is doing is integration! Integration
doesn't work! Repeat integration doesn't work, maybe a few cases it is okish,
but on the whole integration doesn't work.
Inclusion is something very different, it is about adjusting schools to the disabled child not adjusting disabled children to schools!
We know that inclusion can work!
Preethi Manuel interviews Claire Malone, a pupil at Hatch
End High School who has recently completed her exams using the support of
a scribe and a practical assistant. This is a great example of a school thinking
creatively about supporting disabled students.
What are the difficulties you found when you took your GCSE exams?
My main difficulty is that I can't write with a pen or use
a keyboard so I had to do all my exams by dictating my answers to a scribe.
However my speech is difficult to understand and talking is also very tiring
and takes me a long time.
How did you resolve those difficulties?
My school applied in good time to the exam board for permission
for me to do all my exams with a scribe and practical assistant and for me
to have enough extra time - 100%. They also applied for enlarged papers because
I have difficulties scanning. I had to do all my exams in a separate room
so it was me, my scribe and the invigilator.
The separate room also had a table at the right height for me to get my wheelchair under so I could work comfortably. My scribes were teaching assistants who had worked with me in that subject for some time so they were used to my speech and to the vocabulary of that subject. This meant they were more likely to understand me the first time I said something and so I had to repeat myself less often. I was also allowed to take supervised breaks if I got tired - so the clock would stop and then would start again when I was able to go on. I had also done my mocks under the same exam conditions that I would face in the real thing so I knew what to expect and we were able to iron out little problems beforehand.
As there are other young people like you wanting to do their exams, what advice would you give them and their schools?
This is really hard to answer because everyone needs something
different depending on how their disability or difficulty affects them in
exams. I would say plan early and, if you have someone to help you, have a
look on the website of the Joint Council for Qualifications to see what kind
of special arrangements can be applied for and ask your school to apply for
what you think you need. Just because your school may not have asked for a
certain kind of special arrangement before, does not mean they can't ask for
it for you - you are unique. My mum did a lot of the negotiating with my school
and she got a report from my physio to help make the case for the extra time
I needed, which is why I say get someone to help you. It's hard enough studying
for your exams without having to spend a lot of time finding out what you
might be entitled to and then arguing for it - that is unless of course you
enjoy that type of thing. To schools I would say - listen to your pupils and
their parents/carers or other representative as to what special access arrangements
they think will help them do their best in an exam.
How did you do in your GCSEs?
I got A* in all of my GCSEs - 10 in total. I am now studying
for my A Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry and plan to
go to university in 2008 to study Physics or Natural Sciences if I get into
(Also see page 18 'Comment' by parent Jennifer Malone)
Roy died in King's Cross hospital, London, on 15th June after
a short illness. We first met 35 years ago as we stormed around the streets
of London together, putting the world to rights. When I last saw Roy, in May
this year, he was in the wheelchair he had propelled for a dozen years. We
got stuck in a lift together and talked and talked, still putting the world
That was Roy. An activist, passionate about social justice, with a big heart. He was a member of the Alliance for Inclusive Education Council, had belonged to the revolutionary socialist group, Big Flame, and most recently worked for the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) as Policy Officer.
Believing in the progress of working class people around the world, Roy worked hard to develop the commitment of his union (UNISON) to disabled and non-disabled people's rights. It is significant that at his funeral, not only were the wheelchairs out in force, but also activists from over the decades who worked alongside Roy to build the community in Southwark where he lived, those who campaigned for peace and justice in the North of Ireland and also Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, who, as his local MP, had become used to his regular lobbying.
Roy believed that struggles should be connected with each other and was optimistic that socialism would eventually prevail. As policy officer of NCIL he spearheaded the Our Lives, Our Choices campaign and was working on the launch of the disabled person's independent living bill when he died. People told me they could feel his presence at the launch, even though he could not be there.
When I read the tributes to Roy on the NCIL website I was moved to see how most people emphasised his warmth and generosity. Despite his limiting impairments, Roy was always interested in you. And as for me, I always felt he looked after me. I shall miss him.
Convenor of Educational Psychologists for Inclusion.
Roy Webb was a big man in every sense. I met him many years
ago at a demonstration. He wore a flat cap and had a kind smile. I liked him.
Over the years he moved closer to us. He became a solid rock in the centre of our organisation, Allfie. Whenever he was needed he turned up, however much effort and difficulty he had in doing so. When we were at 'war' with each other he became a peacemaker. He held us together.
It was always difficult to get Roy to talk about himself, but gradually I drew a picture of his life. His mother was Italian and he had spent many happy summers there in what he termed a 'Children's Paradise'. He was well loved and was therefore able to be very loving. As a young man he was already a passionate socialist, organising people wherever he went. His brother recalled the story of Roy sitting in a tenant's hall he had helped his neighbour's secure, talking politics with his friends when he excused himself, saying he had to go and call the Bingo. "Bingo!? His astounded friends had said, "What about the revolution?" and Roy replied "This is part of it. You have to start where the people are".
I discovered at his funeral that he had been a mathematician, a hill walker and once had a laugh so loud it rattled the windows. I didn't know that Roy. I knew a kind and gentle disabled man with a brilliant mind who worked every day of his life to bring people together to build a better, more inclusive world.
He said "There will never be enough time in my life to do all the things I would like. I just want to know when the end comes that I have always done my best". What a model human being. We were so lucky to have had him.
When I shockingly heard of Roy's very untimely death, I felt
as if a member of my own family passed away. I've known Roy for quite a few
years. We were both on the council for The Alliance for Inclusive Education
for over 10 years. He always approached issues with a great deal of forth
sight, intelligence and sensitivity. On the few occasions when we had to deal
with some very difficult situations and decisions, Roy was able to help find
solutions by guiding us to see through the difficulties with greater clarity
I feel so lucky that I knew Roy and was able to share in some of his social gatherings as well as the more formal setting of meetings. Such a warm and generous man, genuinely interested in all those people around him. He was absolutely committed to inclusive education, and independent living - indeed for the rights of all disabled people in every aspect of life.
His legacy will definitely live on, and how very missed he will be.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Roy since I first began working
for the Alliance back in 1996. He put me immediately at ease and made me feel
instantly part of the 'family'. I loved him straight away really. I suspect
most people do.
The thing I remember most about Roy is that whenever I met him he wanted to know how I was doing. He always showed genuine care, concern and interest, and always made me feel as if I had something to contribute, something important to say. I know that's how he made everyone feel, he was a true ally to whoever he was with. And you knew he was doing his best thinking for you, making thoughtful suggestions and trying always to work out if there was a way he could help more, do more, be more involved.
When I heard that he had died it was one of those moments that don't happen very often, when you feel your own sense of personal loss, but a much greater sadness for the world beyond. I'm going to miss him and the Movement will never be quite the same without him.
I knew the first time I met Roy he had social justice and
inclusion running through his veins. We met in 2002, as some of us were setting
up the "I Decide" coalition against the Mental Capacity Bill (now
law). Roy was there representing NCIL but you got the feeling from the beginning
that he was bringing many more voices to the campaign.
He was on the interview panel for the Director's job at the Alliance and I remember his 'grilling' about how I would make sure ALLFIE included young people's voices in its work.
Roy's quiet and thoughtful support once I became Director was unswerving and usually started with a "How's everything going then...."
His terrible time keeping was legendary but then so was his kind and generous spirit. His ability to bring groups of people together in sometimes very difficult circumstances would lead you to think he had a very tough skin but I know from chats we had that he felt the pain of personal attacks like the rest of us.
His legacy must be that we continue to build a strong inclusion movement through our relationships with our allies. It is only through this unified but diverse network that we will achieve our vision of an inclusive future for all
Director, Alliance for Inclusive Education
The Government are now well into a 15 year programme to rebuild and renovate the entire Secondary school building stock.
"Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is about providing your children with educational facilities fit for the 21st century. It is designed to bring about transformational changes in the physical school environment and to support new ways of teaching and learning."
"Creating educational and leisure facilities for the whole community, not just school children, is a fundamental part of BSF, so you and your neighbours should also benefit directly from the improvements to local schools, for example, by being able to use them for sports or evening classes".
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) fund and oversee the 'Building schools for the future' programme with 'Partnerships for Schools' (PfS) who is responsible for delivering the government's secondary school renewal programme. Since 2006 they have also been responsible for building the City Academies. Tim Byles, Chief Executive, waxed lyrical about the progress being made in rebuilding schools. Eleven schemes in the first waves amount to investment worth over £2.5 billion which will see education transformed in around 150 secondary schools. Overall, 72 local authorities - that's around 1,000 schools - are now engaged in BSF. The intention is all others will follow.
BSF is about making new buildings with a Wow factor, using design to minimise disruptive behaviour, developing personalised learning and flexible use of information technology to support learning. All laudable aims, but the plans have not been put to the test of meeting the duty to promote disability equality, which is a statutory requirement of local authorities and Government, especially when procuring services from the private sector as here.
The mechanism being utilised here is a private public partnership. Each Local Authority participating in BSF must set up a new order of Public Private Partnerships - the Local Education Partnership. The role of a LEP is to ensure that BSF money is used efficiently and effectively to improve local authorities' secondary school estates and will be delivered by the competitively selected private business. The LEP issue a tender and private firms bid to deliver this. In exchange they get control of the school buildings for 30 years, get paid for the services they will provide such as cleaning, caretaking, maintenance and the renting of the premises outside school hours. The government provide some funding as grant and the chosen provider also provides some. This is effectively a Private Finance Initiative - which led to some really bad school developments in the previous 10 years as private companies cut corners to make a profit.
There is considerable evidence both from the audit commission and from reports from schools that PFI undercut the development of inclusion.
At Hall Green Secondary School in Birmingham which is resourced for physically disabled pupils a new Science and Design and Technology Block was built under PFI. The new Science labs did not have enough space for wheelchair using students to come into the class in their chairs. They had to leave them in the corridor outside.
At Sandhill Community School in Sunderland the school walls in the corridors were made of such thin plaster board that they could easily be broken. The school had to spend £30,000 reinforcing them.
At Kingsford Secondary in Newham, the PFI company who had built the new school questioned the admissions policy as 'too many' breakages were taking place and thought that potentially disruptive pupils should not be admitted to the school.
Now under BSF schools are being told they cannot have the lay out they want to preserve and develop the inclusive practice in the school because this is outside the square footage guidance laid down by DCSF and PfS.
The templates available for BSF do take account of Section M of the building regulations for access. However, in 1983 school regulations which laid down square meterage per pupil and for wheelchair using pupils were got rid of and there is now no accepted standard.
Schools being offered BSF, or PFI for primary rebuilds, need
to be particularly vigilant to make sure they get buildings fit for purpose
for all children. We need flexible classroom space with smaller break out
rooms and fully accessible buildings. Remember this procurement process has
to comply with the Duty to Promote Disability Equality. For those at national,
local or school level the right to see judicial review may become an essential
tool to ensure that new schools are indeed inclusive and fit for the full
diversity of our communities in the Twenty First Century.
Over the last few weeks and months we have heard from Alliance
members about how BSF is being implemented at the local level and the message
we are hearing loud and clear is that there is very little transparency about
how and who are given contracts to rebuild schools and that many of the new
build schools can no longer meet the access requirements of all existing pupils.
The Alliance has heard about a number of young people who have been forced out of their mainstream schools and into special school because they can no longer get into the building - This is a disgrace!
The Alliance has asked to meet with the Dept for Children,
Schools and Families to raise these issues. If you have any stories about
how BSF is being implemented in your local area can you please contact Tara
at the Alliance as we think getting BSF right for disabled young people should
to be our next campaign. We cannot stand by as new BSF - so called WOW factor
- schools DELIBERATELY exclude young people from accessing what is rightfully
theirs - a good, well resourced inclusive education.
More about the campaign in the next edition of Inclusion Now.
The second UK Inclusion Summer Institute held in Nottingham
this summer was a great success. Nicky Gregory who attended with her son Joseph
tells us about it.
he Inclusion Summer Institute this June was a wonderful experience for Joseph and me.
For Joseph, it really helped him to start turning around from all the rubbish that had been thrown at him in the last few years in Brighton and Hove.
For me it was brilliant to realise that there are people around, who are doing seriously good things, changing the world little by little into a more harmonious, inclusive place - people with and without named disabilities. It was also a safe place where I was supported to move through some old stuff around marginalisation and release some of the pain and sadness and anger and fear of years.
I can't give an overview of the conference - there were so many fascinating and useful workshops going on and I couldn't go to them all!
For Joseph, I think the high point was when Cat and Liz helped him to create his PATH (Planning Ahead Together with Hope). This was magical for him (and for me and Matty - one of his independence trainers - just observing it). Weaving backwards and forwards in time - from dreams, visions of possible futures to now and first steps, and thinking about support and back to the future - the process brought huge power to Joseph and me. When we came back home he was really clear about keeping on - he's tried out 3 new pubs, he's on Facebook now (and doing very well in a Pacman competition) and planning his 21st birthday party.
Joseph and Matty did a whole day workshop, beginning to learn how to facilitate PATH's and I want them to help me work out mine. Then, of course, they can go on to help other people. There are a lot of people in Brighton and Hove waiting for this.
The main ideas that seemed to me to run through the whole conference were:
Any adjustment we make to include someone with a disability, helps us all.
We are not short of time. By slowing down we go deeper. Life becomes richer.
Working for inclusion is working for a loving revolution.
A disability is a gift.
These ideas came from a lot of people there, so I won't just
go through a list of names. If you couldn't get there, then it's definitely
worth contacting Inclusive Solutions, the Conference organisers to find out
I asked Joseph what he would like to say about it. He said "I'd like to go again"
Our summer conference was a triumph - we were undeterred by the bomb scares in London on the same day! Most of us were able to get to the venue. It was wonderful to spend the day with people working on inclusion from such different angles - and that is our strength in Heading for Inclusion. We had a visitor from Azerbaijan who is working at a national level to change policy around inclusion, the policy director for the Disability Rights Commission, the director of the Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education, a speaker from School's Out as well as chalk face teachers, Headteachers and our own Alliance activists and parents.
The key message from the conference is that we are all essential in the move towards inclusive education - we cannot do it without changes in the law - but we also cannot do it without people who are prepared to dedicate their lives to making real changes for individual children in school now! I hope everybody went away from the conference truly valuing their particular part in the jigsaw puzzle and knowing that we are doing this together.
At the organisation stage we were keen to ensure that this
was going to be a conference with a difference. We wanted each participant
to have the opportunity to share their views and their particular experiences
of inclusion and to be able to ask questions of others about their areas of
interest and expertise. Our goal was to have the equivalent of a series of
long coffee breaks where conversation was the central aim - interspersed with
opportunities to listen to talks and ask questions in the larger group. As
a result we all had a very stimulating day and finished with our heads buzzing
with news from Azerbaijan; the future of the single equality duty; thoughts
about how best to include children with a variety of different needs (including
young people with disabilities, gay young people, ethnic minorities, black
children and children from outside the UK); a discussion about fairer funding
and many individual mind expanding exchanges.
We had a major discussion on how radical policy change in Azerbaijan has not yet led to the expected changes for children with impairments who are still largely kept at home not receiving any formal education. This was a salutary lesson to those of us disappointed at the slow pace of change in our own country. Our discussion confirmed that the situation is similar to our own position in relation to gay, disabled and black people who, despite changes in the law still continue to suffer a whole range of discrimination both openly and in hidden ways. It is clear our voices need to be heard!
As for the future of Heading for Inclusion, over the next year we need to:
Develop a website
Expand our membership to include all 'educational professionals'
Continue our termly meetings
Advertise the date of next year's conference (provisionally Friday 18th July)
Keep up the good work of supporting and encouraging each other on the path to full inclusion.
If you have any other ideas please contact:
Chair Heading for Inclusion
Tel: 01420 84400
Mob: 07984 738 984
Two new studies show that sorting children into sets is not beneficial to their learning. A study by Professor Jo Boaler of Sussex University revealed that children in mixed ability mathematics classes outperformed those grouped by ability. The study showed that an approach that involved students not being divided into ability groups but being given a shared responsibility for each others learning led to a significant improvement of both high and low achieving students. Professor Boaler, presenting her findings to Gordon Brown said "In England we use more ability groupings than possibly any other country in the world, and children are put into groups at a very young age. It is no coincidence that our society also has high levels of anti-social behaviour and indiscipline. Children who are put into low sets quickly learn to view themselves as unsuccessful and develop anti-school values that lead to general anti-social behaviour."
A second study by Dr Mairhead Dunne, also of Essex University revealed that setting in our schools is still primarily based on social class and ethnicity, not measurable ability. An analysis of grouping practices in 168 primary and secondary schools found that working class students were more likely to be placed in lower sets than middle class students who have the same test results, and that middle class students were more likely to be assigned to higher sets irrespective of their prior attainment.
For more information read 'Promoting "relational equality"
and high mathematical achievement through an innovative mixed ability approach'
by Jo Boaler, Marie Curie Professor of Education, soon to be published in
the British Educational Research Journal;
'Effective Teaching and Learning for Pupils in Low Attainment Groups' by Dr Mairhead Dunne, published in September 2007 by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
I am very proud of my daughter Claire and also very pleased
about the fact that new anti-disability discrimination legal duties came into
force on 1 September 2007 that will apply to bodies conferring relevant general
qualifications such as GCEs, GCSEs, Key Skills and GNVQs. It appears to me
that the special access arrangements that the school has sought for Claire
for sitting her exams have now become a legal entitlement to reasonable adjustments
so that she is not at a substantial disadvantage. I am concerned however,
because the duty to make reasonable adjustments does not apply to competence
standards and I think there is a lot of potential for confusing a competence
standard with the way it is tested. The current Joint Council for Qualifications
guidance on special access arrangements states for example that "A practical
assistant will not be allowed in subjects testing design or artistic skills,
such as Music, Art, Design and Technology, IT keyboarding or word processing,
where the practical skill is in itself the focus of the examination. In practical
science assessments, no marks will be given for implementation, where this
skill has been performed by the practical assistant but marks may be credited
for planning, analysis and evaluation". It seems to me that blanket policies
such as these, justified presumably because of "competence standards",
have enormous potential for disability related discrimination against students
with poor manual dexterity. I really hope the new law will force exam boards
to review and change this sort of policy.