Inclusion Now Articles Issue 25
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I wasn't part of the inclusion movement when the first Inclusive Education conference took place in Salamanca in 1994, but have used the statement that came out of that groundbreaking event many times in our lobbying work at ALLFIE.
How great then, in October last year, to be able to attend the Global Conference on Inclusive Education in Salamanca .. 15 years on .. The title for the conference was "Inclusive Education - Confronting the Gap: Rights, Rhetoric, Rights?" and there was a real feel from the participants to reflect on progress made in the last fifteen years and what needs to happen to make inclusive education a reality for all disabled people.
The event was organised by Inclusion International - a parent led organisation and Salamanca University and from the people I met, there was a great mix of teachers, parents, Government and local authority representatives and policy makers.
Richard Rieser and I were there representing the UK, but there were people there from all over the globe - North and South America, Africa, Asia as well as Europe - 56 countries were represented. Some participants had been part of the 1994 event, but the majority of the 600 were new to the movement and so brought with them huge enthusiasm and renewed belief in what is possible!
The tone of the event was set by a clear commitment to inclusive education from Vernor Munoz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education who opened the event stating that "inclusive education is a pre-requisite for learning". We have asked Senor Munoz if he would be willing to come to the UK before he steps down from his position in July this year, to help us convince the UK Government to change their position on Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
There were further endorsements from other United Nations agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank. I was particularly impressed by the Spanish Minister for Education, Angel Gabilando Pujul, who spoke in no uncertain terms about the long term commitment his government has to inclusive education. Senor Pujul talked about 'inclusive education being fundamental to achieving equality and rights' - I quietly fantasized about whether Ed Balls (UK Minister for Children Schools and Families) would ever have the courage to say something similar.
The event used Article 24 of the Convention as its guiding principle which meant that much of the discussion focussed on what organisations, groups and individuals could do to ensure each of our Governments identify implementation plans. I took every opportunity to share with our fellow inclusionists the frustration and anger we feel in the UK about our Governments decision to place conditions on our right to be included in mainstream education.
Inclusion International had conducted a survey of their members about how inclusion is going around the world particularly for young people with learning difficulties. The Report presents a very mixed picture. You can read it online at: http://www.inclusion-international.org/ site_uploads/File/Better Education for All_Global Report_October 2009.pdf
A very useful strategic document on implementing Article 24
was also produced for the Conference:
I think Richard and I were both disappointed by the lack of
disabled people at the event as participants and particularly that there were
very few disabled people as speakers. There was a session where young disabled
people from Argentina, Portugal and Spain had an opportunity to talk about
their lives, but it felt very much an add on rather than a real commitment
to supporting the voices of young people.
As the conference came to a close on the third day it was clear that a final statement was needed to bring together the diversity of voices across the globe in support of inclusive education. So the Resolution below was drafted and agreed by the 600 participants at the final session.
We have already started to use it in our campaigning work and will ensure it is part of ALLFIE's Manifesto for Inclusive Education in the lead up to the general election later in the spring.
Salamanca felt like a real boost to my campaigning batteries because it was a timely reminder of what has been achieved so far and the very real global commitment that exists to ensuring that all disabled learners have a recognised right to inclusive education.
Yes, there is still lots more to do - completely overhaul
our education system for example - but nothing that is worth waiting for is
ever easily achieved. As one speaker in Salamanca said: "We must become
leaders of lifelong change".
Salamanca Conference Resolution October 2009
"We the undersigned participants in the Global Conference on Inclusive Education- 'Confronting the Gap: Rights, Rhetoric, Reality? Return to Salamanca' held at the University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain
1. Reaffirm the commitment of the Salamanca Statement (1994) and commit to develop an inclusive education system in every country of the world. We welcome the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and in particular Article 24 which gives new impetus to the Human Right of inclusive education for all people with disabilities.
2. We understand inclusive education to be a process where mainstream schools and early years settings are transformed so that all children/students are supported to meet their academic and social potential and involves removing barriers in environment, attitudes, communication, curriculum, teaching, socialisation and assessment at all levels.
3. We call on all Governments to ratify the UNCRPD and to develop and implement concrete plans to ensure the development of inclusive education for all. In addition we call on international agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF and The World Bank to increase and prioritize their efforts to support the development of inclusive education.
4. We commit ourselves to form an alliance to transform global efforts to achieve Education for All creating better education for all through the development of inclusive education and hereby launch INITIATIVE 24 as a vehicle to achieve our goal."
The Welcome Workbook
A self-review framework for expanding inclusive provision in your local authority
CSIE's latest publication, The Welcome Workbook, is written primarily for those local authority officers - some of them individuals, others in a more collective capacity - who want to expand the numbers of children who are in mainstream schools in their area: in other words, people who not only care about inequality, but are brave and adventurous enough to try and do something about it.
As its subtitle suggests, the Workbook is a way for these professionals as well as other interested parties to evaluate their progress, much as they would in an Ofsted review. It is curious that even though the DCSF says to the United Nations (in its interpretation of Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) that it is "continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff," neither Ofsted nor the Department express an interest in the numbers of children segregated.
So, as usual, it is down to the voluntary sector to initiate progress. We have to try and fill the gap between these broad government policy statements on inclusive education and the detail of what is actually happening, or not happening, on the ground. The line of both major political parties now is that it is all a matter of parental choice. This surely means that parents of children who would previously have been in special schools can choose the local mainstream school for their child if that is what they want. But neither party has said how they might take a lead in making this choice realistic - though the choice of a segregated school is still easy enough. Currently there are mainstream schools that will welcome children whom other mainstream schools deem it "difficult" or "impossible" to include. No one in government is challenging these other schools, and we cannot always expect parents to do it.
Local authorities vary just as much as schools on this issue. In the most inclusive area of the country a child stands over twenty times more chance of attending a mainstream school than in the least inclusive. This difference is so astonishing that it surely demands some regulatory response from government. There are people working in most local authorities, some of them in strategic or influential positions, who are quietly unhappy about the numbers of children who end up segregated from their brothers, sisters, friends and potential friends in the local community. The Welcome Workbook is aimed at helping them to think about what they can do strategically to get more children into mainstream, particularly children said to have "the most complex" needs.
Under seven headings - policy, strategy, training and development, mainstream/community access, support and challenge, funding, use of evidence - The Welcome Workbook addresses and explores issues that are within local authority control. It can be used in strategy meetings and/or development days, and can be used as a basis for consultation and meetings with families as well as other sectors.
The Welcome Workbook: a self-review framework for expanding inclusive provision in your local authority, CSIE, Bristol 2009.
Available direct from CSIE at £14 per copy, or £10
per copy when ordered in batches of 10 or more.
My name is Javiera Chinchón, from Chile. I'm a mother of three noisy but marvellous boys. My eldest, Santiago (8 years), has Down's Syndrome, and his appearance in our lives changed our vision and concept of everything in such a positive way.
It had being running in my mind from a long time ago, to start
a project about Inclusion in Education, particularly having the close experience
of how difficult is to really include a disabled child in mainstream education,
and the aim to contribute to my country in the development of policies that
can drive us to a more inclusive society.
Here in Chile, the Learning / Support Assistant "figure" is not clearly defined. Many parents hire untrained people, who can roughly get along with this job, which is not always well understood by teachers and not covered by any health insurance systems, so it's also very expensive. I lived in Buenos Aires a couple of years - there, it is very common to see included children with their "Maestra Integradora" (that's what they call them there) at their schools. In fact, my own son had one who was 'provided' by an organisation which gave this service of trained professionals.
In my extensive internet search, I found the "The Inclusion Assistant" course, run by the Alliance for Inclusive Education, so I got in touch with them - without realising at the time I was about to open a door that would change my life
It was not an easy thing to get my suitcase done and take the flight to London. I had to struggle with financial support, permission in my actual job, and arrange my kid's days without me! But the Allfie team was SO encouraging they completely moved me to take the chance.
I could never be more grateful about the days in London, mainly, to have met such wonderful and inspiring people, who have done so much for the world-well being and particularly for the disabled people's rights.
Allfie organised for me 3 visits to schools, Nursery, Primary and Secondary, where I got to see first hand inclusive practices related to physical and human resources adapted to make disabled children's lives at school a good, pleasant and enriched experience.
Afterwards I was able to know different organisations at Lambeth Accord's Building such as: Parents for Inclusion, Disability Advice Service (DASL) and People First (Lambeth). They helped me to get a wider picture of what is going on with the parents of kids with limitations, disabled youngsters and adults, and of course, the enormous work that is done by the members of Allfie concerning education.
The third day was the course itself and it soon became the absolute high point of all! To actually see and feel the kids and youngsters expressing their own wishes, aims, and dreams, all of it being wonderfully transmitted and embodied in a piece of work material by Christine Burke and Micheline Mason.
It wasn't at all a course about technical issues as I thought
at the beginning, but a much more profound and important one - a course meant
to open our eyes about how people around disabled ones must be "allies"
in helping them to fulfil their rights, if we are not conscious of this, we
will hardly be able to help them in any specific issue, because it will be
a trip without a North.
If it is at all possible to make an overview of what I call the 'London Experience', I would say that the main conclusions that put a mark in my heart and soul were:
" People have limitations, society disables them.
" As a mother, to always hear my son's wishes before mine. To be an Ally.
" Medical Vision vs Social Vision.
" How inclusion is about anticipation, preparation and acceptance of the differences in humanity.
" No one has the right to put limits about which kids are "able" or "unable" to attend mainstream schools, these 'limits' have being challenged and 'moved' in the last years, so it's time to not have limits at all.
I went to London for a course, but I returned to Chile with
a completely different way of seeing society. Now, my project about Inclusion
Assistant training is secondary - I will start with what I think is primary:
the "empowerment" of a Disabled People's Movement. Our very first
step: a parents association of SEN kids at my son's inclusive school and then
replicate the experience in other schools. Then - anything is possible!
So, the cat is out of the bag. Pupils with Special Educational Needs are eight times more likely to be excluded from school (TES 2/10/09). Not, of course, because of their special needs as that would be discriminatory. They are excluded because of their behaviour, which poses a risk to themselves and others.
Exclusion, officially, usually occurs in order that schools can meet their Duty of Care to all staff and pupils to identify risk and take measures to reduce it. This over-rides the right of the young person to an educational placement (although if the exclusion lasts more than six days another placement must be found). In the hand that is dealt young people and those charged with caring for and educating them the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is trumps.
So young people are not being excluded because of their special needs but because of behaviour which poses a risk to themselves, others or significant damage to property. This includes young people with needs that directly impinge on their ability to process and understand their own emotions and social expectations, such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, never mind the frustrations and challenges of managing limited mobility, sensory deficit or specific learning difficulty in the average mainstream environment. The most obvious dishonesty here is the pretence that 'behaviour' can be divided from the context that makes problems more likely to occur and shifts any responsibility back onto the young person with special needs.
Even if we accept that there is no responsibility on the institutions who exclude to address the source of behaviour that challenges, we can question the effectiveness of exclusion as an agent of change. In theory they provide security for the school community, re-establishing security and safety by removing the threat. Isolation from the community, denial of membership and the withdrawal of educational activity are supposed to provide a shock and a period of reflection which will motivate a change of behaviour. In the majority of cases this is not an honest analysis. In reality pupils who are already experiencing feelings of alienation from school are likely to feel more rejected and isolated, and potentially fruitful, positive relationships which might be an engine of change are damaged, sometimes beyond repair. The pupil who returns to school in these circumstances is likely to be more disaffected, less able to relate to the school community and more likely to pose an ongoing threat of the type exclusion is supposed to remove.
Given the weakness of exclusion as an agent of change, it is worth asking the question "Whose problem is being solved here?" Superficially, the problem of a staff member struggling to cope with a challenging and disruptive influence in the class, at least in the short term. However, this is a problem which is going to return, possibly with interest. This is especially true if exclusion is viewed as an end in itself like a prison sentence, the time that fits the crime, with no additional strategies to support reflection and change.
Other than the short term break, what is the attraction of exclusion as a strategy? Often it is a response to a sort of despair, even a cry for help from an institution that has exhausted its skills and strategies and feels helpless. A common internal analysis in this situation is "Things are worse than they have ever been. Nothing is being done about it. Something must be done." From this perspective it aids morale and gives the smack of firm management if the 'Something' is public and punitive, a message to others and an assertion of control. From the extremely limited sanctions available to schools exclusion is the one that most fits this particular bill. The downside is that if you are playing with a limited hand it is good advice to play carefully and sparingly. The overuse of exclusion as a sanction undermines its effectiveness even further, launching a spiral of increasing problems and repeated calls for further exclusions.
Are there practical alternatives to exclusion? Restorative Justice conferencing has a well researched and evidenced track record, offering a route to resolution of difficulties, the repair of relationships and agreed, evidenced behaviour change supported by the actions of the rest of the school community. It takes an investment in time and training but like most alternatives to putting children out of schools is cost effective compared to the alternatives, especially placements in PRUs, special units or special schools.
There are also exclusions which are not the result of a single,
dramatic incident, but arise from the gradual crumbling of relationships in
which behaviour escalates and eventually becomes untenable. In other settings,
such as foster care, there is provision for relationships which become stressful
and approach breaking point. There are strategies that seem able to recognise
that there are difficulties on both sides of a relationship and that some
time apart to rest and heal will benefit both sides. They do this without
rejecting either party and without further damaging strained relationships,
and both sides remain part of their existing community. Crucially, it is not
seen as an act of punishment.
A truly honest approach to exclusions would acknowledge that a large number of the situations from which they arise would be better dealt with through appropriate forms of time apart, not imposed as a sanction, supported by strategies to encourage reflection and change, and with care taken to maintain and nurture positive relationships. This would take maturity, resourcefulness and the strength to resist calls to do 'Something'. From there we could start to build a relationship based, pupil-centred and humane approach to supporting all of our children in schools.
Pushing for Change
Great News! ALLFIE's 'Pushing for Change - The Role of Disabled People's Organisations in Developing Young Disabled Leaders of the Future' Report was launched at a high profile event in the House of Lords on the 19th January.
The report was hosted by Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton
DBE - Jane is a long time supporter of ALLFIE so we were really pleased she
could support the launch.
Jane talked about how exciting she thought the report was and said:
'Young disabled people make perfect leaders because they learn through experience how to overcome barriers. If they can apply this experience to life in general, they will often unlock some of the barriers all people face in life. Disabled people have already shown leadership in public involvement and inclusive communication; or how to build mutually supportive communities. This project will help unlock more of this talent -- I am thrilled to be launching it'.
Support for the report also came from Hardip Begol, the lead civil servant on disability and SEN at the Dept for Children Schools and Families, who talked about the importance of young disabled people being supported to take on leadership roles:
'I think this is an excellent piece of work and our department
is fully behind leaders, young leaders pushing for change. What has really
touched me in the report is about disabled people redefining what they mean
by leadership, so it is not the traditional getting out there and making a
great speech, but how do disabled people, nonverbal people demonstrate leadership
and I think it is important for disabled people's organisations to come forward
and try and redefine that in terms of leadership that is important to you'.
The launch was full to the brim with young disabled people, ally parents, individuals and organizations that had been involved in the research and a sprinkling of Peers and MPs.
The 'Pushing for Change' report highlights that young disabled people need to feel part of their communities, families and peer groups if they are to feel confident to seek out leadership roles. The research shows that young people want more choice and control in their lives so they can be leaders.
" 88% of young disabled people thought young people can be leaders
" 83% of young disabled people thought you did not have to do everything on your own to be a leader
" 88% of the young disabled people thought you do not have to be able to speak to be a leader
The report also shows that young disabled people want to be leaders but are often excluded from leadership opportunities. There are 10 recommendations in the report which outline the changes needed to ensure that young disabled people have the same leadership opportunities as their non disabled peers. Such opportunities will be crucial if the Government is to meet its target of full equality for ALL disabled people by 2025.
The 'Pushing for Change' full report and summary are available FREE from ALLFIE either from the office (details on back page) or downloadable from our website at: www.allfie.org.uk
"Being a leader means pushing for change, being willing
to stand up and do the work that others don't. Seeing the situation and wanting
to change it and encouraging other people to do the same, utilising your experience
to empower other people and get their own leadership going" Young participant
I am a young disabled person who has recently left full time higher education. I was asked by ALLFIE to find out what each of the main political parties are thinking about education and disabled learners and what their manifesto commitments will be to education and disabled learners. Only Labour and the Liberal Democrats got back to me. Here are the answers to the questions I sent them. The Conservatives did not get back to me so I have also included an excerpt from their newly released Draft Education Manifesto instead.
Q.1 What will your party do to ensure that the new obligations set out in Article 24 of the UN convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are implemented?
Every country that has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is required to report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on what it has done to implement the Convention. The UK's first report will be due to be submitted to the UN Committee by July 2011. In taking forward work on the UK's report, the Office for Disability Issues will be exploring how the views of disabled people and their organisations can be reflected in what is said, and the issues that are addressed.
Liberal Democrats have always argued that children with disabilities have a right to an inclusive education. We need an education system which gives every child regardless of their background a fair start in life. Now that the UK has ratified the treaty, the Liberal Democrats will do all we can to ensure that it proceeds with its duties under it. My colleagues and I will continue to push to ensure that any legislation introduced in order to comply with the treaty is the strongest possible.
Q.2 What will you do to promote inclusion for disabled students in mainstream education?
We have launched "Achievement for All" - an exciting and pioneering project that supports schools and local authorities to provide the very best opportunities to ensure children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs fulfil their potential. It is supporting 460 schools, in ten pilot local authorities, to implement and share the best inclusive practice for improving outcomes for children and young people with disabilities and SEN. Schools taking part in the project will be trailblazers for developing more inclusive places of learning where children and young people with SEND can feel safe, confident and supported in achieving their potential.
We would ensure that disabled pupils are catered for in their most suitable choice of setting. To achieve this we would use the Pupil Premium, a £2.5bn policy which would direct money to those schools teaching the most disadvantaged children in society. The money would be directed specifically at pupils to allow schools to use it in a way which is most beneficial to those in need. Amongst those receiving the initial payments of Pupil Premium would be those with special educational needs and disabilities from 5-16 to ensure that there is a continuum of financial support for disabled students in mainstream education.
Q.3 What is your party's view on special schools and segregated education?
Our Schools White Paper, published last year, set out a vision for 21st century special schools. All 21st century special schools should have high expectations for what their pupils can achieve, promote the skills and confidence needed for independence in adult life, provide opportunities for disabled and non disabled children to play and learn together.
Liberal Democrats believe in giving parents the choice to decide on the most suitable education setting for their children. While for some people this would mean attending a special school which is designed for coping with pupils with greater needs, for others it is important that mainstream schools are able to support them in a wider setting. The Government has rushed into pushing pupils into mainstream settings without providing appropriate resources or training for teachers. We would end the presumption in the Government's 2004 SEN Strategy that "the proportion of children educated in special schools should fall over time" and encourage the co-location of special schools alongside mainstream schools.
Q.4 Government guidelines specify that homework is a vital part of education up to and including A Levels. However, disabled students are not given access to academic support at home in order to do their homework. What do you intend to do about this?
The DCSF guidance on homework emphasises the important role of parents and carers: how they can get feedback on their children's work, what they should do to help their children and what other steps they can take to support them. It also states that teachers should consider what is appropriate homework for all pupils, especially for those with special educational needs and disability; and what facilities other than the home can be made available for homework.
This can be a real problem and it's essential that disabled students aren't disadvantaged. Our plans to introduce a Pupil Premium, giving schools an additional £2.5bn will help schools provide all pupils with the support they need, in terms of extra equipment and access to school facilities before and after school.
Q.5 Many young disabled people seek volunteering opportunities as a transition into employment - the current guidelines for Access to Work provision do not enable disabled people to undertake unpaid internships or voluntary work, thereby leaving disabled people at a disadvantage. What do you intend to do about this, in particular given the financial situation and subsequent importance of getting work experience?
The Government is investing three quarter of a billion pounds in disabled children's services including Aiming High for Disabled Children, a transformation programme for disabled children and young people. The funding includes £19 million in the Transition Support Programme, aimed at improving transitions to adulthood for disabled young people, including better participation and engagement with the young person in their transition planning.
The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act, that passed through Parliament in the last session was extremely significant in pushing the Government to acknowledge the inadequacies in volunteering and apprenticeship opportunities for disabled pupils. Whilst legislation is important in ensuring that disabled people have the same access to opportunities, we also need to see a general shift in perception by employers. In part, where schools have been segregated in the past, many employers have not experience people with disabilities in normal working environments. Better integration at school, better education and better provision in the workplace will all move people to accepting that giving disabled people equal opportunities in the work place would not be a disadvantage.
Q.6 What will you be doing to ensure that disabled people and their families have the right to choose a mainstream school (with all necessary support) rather than the position now where only a preference can be expressed.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 strengthened the right to a mainstream education for pupils with SEN and disability; and reinforced our commitment to improve standards of achievement of all children with special needs so that they are able to fulfil their full potential.
Parents are well positioned to know what sort of setting is best for their child and our aim should always be to support parental choice as far as possible. Our Pupil Premium will help mainstream schools provide an excellent education for all children by giving them the extra funding required to provide pupils with the support they need.
"Because the most vulnerable children deserve the very highest quality of care, we will call a moratorium on the ideologically-driven closure of special schools and end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools"
Draft Education Manifesto January 2010
Not one parent should feel the need to "fight" a
system. In delivering the Government response to your Inquiry we are committed
to ensure all parents have a shared experience of a system that operates in
partnership for the benefit of their children."
Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Letter to Brian Lamb 16th Dec 2009
This will come as welcome news to the many families who have had to struggle long and hard to get their children included. Lamb will be reporting again by April on how the Government is implementing his recommendations. We will watch with interest to see how this fine statement will become a reality.
The final report of the Lamb Inquiry into Special Educational Needs and Parental Confidence was launched on 16th December 2009. Ed Balls the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families accepted all 51 of its Recommendations as he had previously accepted and implemented three interim reports. These reports spring from the evidence taken by the Education and Skills Select Committee Report into the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in 2006. This suggested widespread dissatisfaction of parents of children with Special Educational Needs with the current system in England.
This is fundamentally about improving mainstream provision and therefore about developing inclusive education - though interestingly this word rarely appears in the four reports. There are 1.6 million children with SEN in mainstream schools on school action, school action plus or with a statement, that is 21% of all pupils. All but around 105,000 are already in mainstream schools. The vast majority would also count as disabled under the definition in the Disability Discrimination Act and therefore have a right to reasonable adjustment and not to be treated less favourably than non-disabled pupils and schools have a Duty to actively promote their equality.
The UK Government reinforced its continuing commitment to developing inclusion when it registered the following declaration at the United Nations, in June 2009, when it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities:
"Education - Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b)
The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children.
The General Education System in the United Kingdom includes mainstream, and special schools, which the UK Government understands is allowed under the Convention."
The Lamb Reports have been based on information gathered from parents, schools and local authorities, as well as research in 8 Local Authorities (LA) into ways of involving parents, reviews of statements. The major outcomes are that although satisfactory for the majority of parents of children in SEN, they feel 'they need to be listened to more and the system needs to be more ambitious for their children- their children's life chances need to be improved'. This 'requires a radical overhaul of the system'. As a result of the recommendations made here and in the three interim reports big changes in accountability are under way already.
In December 2008 concern for the low achievement of disabled children and those with SEN led to a two year, £38m spend on an 'Achievement for All' Pilot in 10 Local Authorities involving 460 schools to find ways of raising achievement, participation and reduce bullying for pupils who are disabled or have SEN. This sounds good, but if it is just more booster classes and individual tuition, rather than revising teaching and learning to be more inclusive it will not achieve the hoped for improvements.
In April 2009 Lamb reported on the information parents receive
about SEN and disability and made 11 recommendations that were all implemented.
The principles underlying these were:
" Communication and engagement with parents rather than standard information;
" A reduction in the specific SEN requirements in favour of covering SEN and disability in information for all children;
" An increased focus on outcomes for disabled pupils and pupils with SEN
" Tighter quality assurance and accountability for meeting streamlined requirements.
This has led to a streamlining of SEN policies. These must all appear on the Local Authority website, alongside each school's Disability Equality Schemes and Accessibility Plans. There was considerable evidence that many fewer than 50% of schools were fulfilling their statutory duty to have consulted and developed these. Most of those who did were inadequate, in particular not consulting with disabled pupils. The National Strategies will now have to monitor how Local Authorities are making sure this is happening. The progress that children with SEN or disabled children are making are now a limiting grade for schools in their OFSTED inspections, since last September. School Improvement Partners have to be trained on SEN/Disability Equality and all School Improvement Plans have to have targets on SEN and Disability Equality.
In August Lamb recommended that parents can appeal to SENDIST if the LA fails to amend a Statement, following an annual review and that OFSTED must report on the quality of education for disabled children and children with SEN when they inspect.
" In the final Report in December Lamb recommends:
" The setting up of a national independent parent helpline.
" All Parent Partnership workers trained in SEN and Disability Equality.
" The advice professionals provide to LA should not be fettered by the LA's capacity to provide it.
" Local Authority Ombudsman to take on parental complaints.
" Statutory guidance on SEN and disability legislation for Governing Bodies and Exclusion panels.
" New guidance on making the tribunal process more open.
" More projects and training on tackling bullying of disabled pupils.
" Training for LA Statementing Officers.
" A new Masters in teaching and learning with an inclusion element run by the Training Development Agency.
" To issue guidance and train schools and local authorities to ensure children with behavioral labels also get recognised as disabled people with statutory rights.
" Bringing the rights of disabled children and those with SEN into the heart of schools and local authorities and giving greater priority to the views of their parents.
" To change the DDA to ensure that failure to provide auxiliary aids and services by a school can be challenged as disability discrimination.
Together these measures if enforced will make a real difference in developing the inclusion of disabled pupils in school, their support and achievement. However, it is interesting that when a number of us pointed out the exclusion of 5-16 education from the Life Chances Report for Disabled People, published by the Cabinet Office in January 2005, we were told it was not necessary, as it was all covered by the DfES plan 'Removing Barriers to Achievement'. None of Lamb's proposals were in that document. Now, with 3 or 5 months to the likely election of a new government that may be hostile to human rights and disability rights, we finally get 'the missing chapter'. How much more could have been achieved in terms of disability equality if it had been included five years ago in the Life Chances Report?
This report and its rapid implementation by the DCSF are good
reasons for all disabled people and the parents of disabled young people to
think carefully about who we vote for in the forthcoming General Election.
Having been lucky enough to go on the 4 day Planning Positive Futures Course, which Parents for Inclusion runs for parents of disabled children, I wanted to gain more knowledge in how to help my son Luke, who has a statement and is in a mainstream school. It's been a tricky journey for us and I wanted more understanding of the issues we have to face and what more can be done to give him the best possible future.
The accredited training course gives you the opportunity to receive a nationally recognised acknowledgement of your learning through the Open College Network.
The accredited course has been broken down into four parts. We have heard from leaders in the field of inclusion. How to find help and how to resolve difficult situations with the school or local authority. We have heard from disabled people, their lives and their history. We have also had practical training on how to work on the PI helpline for example.
The course has been a real eye opener for me and has made me more determined to keep Luke in mainstream school and how not to get ground down by the many issues. In the past I believed that inclusion in schools was the best way forward and now I KNOW it is.
The knowledge I have gained has made me more assertive, has given me strength and I feel more in control.
The course should be made available to professionals in Early
Years settings, health and education, so that everyone can see the benefits
of inclusive education and how it could work for all in all schools.
On the Pathway to Inclusion...
I've spent the best part of my 8 year old daughter's life, unable to focus at work during the day and savouring the peace and quiet of an empty office in the evening, often getting home at bed-time: a bad mother. And then it dawned on me: my kids were growing up fast and we were all missing out. I resolved to work part-time and, in June 2008, became a parent participation worker in Southwark.
You might find it hard to believe, but I'd never exchanged
more than a few words with another parent of a disabled child before then,
and now I was employed to reach out to families, I had to watch what I said.
So when I heard about Parents for Inclusion and the Accredited Training Pathway
I saw an opportunity for me to safely explore my feelings about my daughter's
disability, to meet parents from other boroughs, towns and cities, who might
become friends, and to increase my own knowledge and skills base.
I know this all sounds very selfish, but it's where I'm at and it's okay. In the meantime, I'm learning a lot about disability discrimination and inclusion rights and am beginning to question the quality of care and support my daughter receives, rather than accept it. I've had to challenge my own misconceptions, learn to listen to the hopes and fears of others and view my daughter as a wonderful gift, with a stubborn streak and quirky sense of humour that will stand her in good stead if I can just support, rather than stunt, her growth.
I find it challenging, but rewarding to sit with other parents
who know how I feel, but I am at the beginning of my journey and know I have
a long way to go. I thank the facilitators for their patience and understanding
and am struck by their ability to accept me for who I am and include me. This
is what it feels like to participate. It's not about writing essays and showing
off what you know; it's about being you and being valued for being you: a
basic human right. I want this for my daughter.
The Accredited Training Pathway is an 18 month course accredited
through the Open College Network. It is open to all parents of disabled children
and will hopefully run again from September 2010. For more information, please
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7738 3888.
It's 15 years since ALLFIE held the 'Invisible Children' Conference* with Save the Children. The verdict of that Conference was that disabled children were either absent or used in stereotypical ways. What was wanted, we told 70 children's authors and illustrators, was to just be there and be part of what was going on. Some, like Verna Wilkinson, Michael Foreman and Beverly Naidoo, got the message, but most carried on ignoring what we had to say.
Have things changed? Well certainly due to Scope's 'In the Picture' Campaign** illustration has moved on, though a recent survey by Leeds University*** of 100 Primary age books which include disabled people only found a handful written from a social model and inclusive point of view.
Child's Play (International Ltd) have produced a great range of picture books for 1 to 6 year olds. These are books which introduce children to many traditional rhymes and songs plus experiences such as a first nursery, visit to museums, having a new baby, from a point of view of gender, race and disability equality.
The cultural and ethnic diversity of children and adults is
great for reaffirming life in the city and will give a good start to children
in mono cultural areas to understand the diversity of our society. Men are
frequently shown doing housework and childcare. Adults are shown in diverse
groups, sometimes same gender and sometimes mixed. The diversity of impairment
is also covered with hearing aids, signing, glasses, eye patches, birth marks,
asthma pumps, wheelchair users mixed up with the diversity of adults and children.
We are just there.
Favourite songs such as Old MacDonald, The Wheels on the Bus, Five Little Speckled Frogs and Wind the Bobbin Up are provided each in a separate illustrated board book in the 'Hands On Song' series, with key signs to get the whole group using British Sign Language as they sing. Sign Language is further developed in the 'Sign About' series - Play Time, Going Out, Meal Time, Getting Ready, My First Animal Signs each give 24 signs illustrated and described. And not to forget a great series on baby massage with songs.
For the youngest children the 'Just Like Us' series of Flap books draws similarities between animal and human behaviour, with a good mixture of children including a child who uses a crash helmet, hearing aid, eye patch or has a birth mark - Together, Taking It Easy, Having Fun, and Making Friends. Some are commissioned by Sure Start.
For the slightly older child there is a similar approach in
Grow it, Cook It, Big Day Out, Clean It, and Nursery. Not all of the more
than 40 titles include illustrations of disabled people, but this does not
matter, as the whole style is inclusive and most do.
Child's Play, Ashworth Road, Bridgemead, Swindon SN5 7YD www.childs-play.com
*Invisible Children Conference Report:
***Leeds University 'Inclusion in Literature' Report: