Inclusion Now Articles Issue 27
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Including William at St Augustine's
When I was told for the first time that I would be teaching a pupil who had come from a special needs unit, I must hold my hand up and say that I gulped. In just my fourth year of teaching, I had not met this situation before. Although it was covered during my PGCE course, it was not yet anything I had had to adjust to in the realities of planning and teaching a KS2 curriculum. Very soon after William started with us, we were briefed on William's specific problems - being in his own world, speech and language difficulties, finding empathy and relationships tricky things to navigate, being fixed on one thing for long periods of time.
What were my concerns? I was worried that I would not be able to meet William's needs educationally, and that he would not be able, in the context of a busy, mixed-age Year 4/5 class, to make the progress that he needed to. Hitherto, he had been taught in a small, quiet unit, 1-1 with a teacher for most of the day. Secondly, I worried about the class that he was coming into. Would William be a high-dependent pupil, and if so, how would that affect my ability as a teacher to continue to meet the needs of the rest of the pupils, all of whom had a legitimate call on my time, energy and attention?
Lastly, I worried about how William and the class would interact with each other. Would William become agitated in the face of a noisy classroom? The development of teaching towards more pupil-centred and less teacher-led didactic activities has meant that classrooms can often times now be animated and lively places where children are encouraged to think through questions and solutions for themselves. How would William cope with this I wondered, and how would the other pupils cope if William could not respond in a way that they could understand or respond to? Would I, being relatively new to teaching, be able to put all these things together and make sure that all the pupils made good progression.
William joined the class in January, one-third of the way through the academic year, and he arrived with a statement. The funding that this came with made a significant difference to his progress as a pupil, because it meant that within a mainstream context, he had an assigned teaching and learning assistant five mornings a week. In practice this meant that William was able to adjust extremely quickly into the routine of the classroom. The TA was able to "interpret" so that, for instance, William could understand figures of speech, and other non-literal ways of speaking. (It took a large mental adjustment on my part to moderate my use of metaphors!) William settled quickly and easily into life in a small, mainstream Primary school.
In short, many of my initial fears quickly proved to be unfounded. On the contrary, I was privileged to watch how the benefits of genuine and supported inclusion can play out in mainstream schools. There were two significant impacts in particular. The first was how other pupils in the class developed an incredible empathy for William and became like second teaching assistants. One incident was when in an afternoon geography session, not long after William joined us, I asked another pupil to sit with William and "keep him going". (William would often stop after writing one or two words initially, if not prompted to continue). This pupil not only managed to get William to complete almost a page of writing, but successfully finished his own work to a high standard. Using lots of positive reinforcement, his prompts included: "That's brilliant William, now write three sentences about..."
Once William was writing he continued with his own work. In observing their behaviour, he kept constantly checking on William out of the corner of his eye. When William had completed the sentences, he would give him the next prompt. When I drew the rest of the class' attention to how well this pupil had helped William while still finishing his own work, they all understood how to help. From then on, there was no shortage of volunteers for the role. They moderated their language so easily, that they showed me how to do it better. This pupil to pupil support worked so well that I was able to support less able pupils without concern for William keeping on task. William gradually became more and more independent during afternoon sessions without his one-to-one teaching assistant and we were able over the course of eighteen months to get him to a point where he was often working without any support to complete work.
The second major impact was on the improvement in William's speech and language and his communication skills. Over the eighteen months that William was in my class, this improved dramatically. He was able to initiate conversations with both peers and adults. He was able to say what he wanted and to ask for things. From initially giving responses which were often totally off the subject, he was able to participate and give clearly relevant responses which were often quite insightful. He was able to ask questions and initiate and sustain Socratic dialogue. Socially, from initially remaining aloof and wary of other pupils, he was able to join in games on the playground, including football and other activities which require a degree of rapid communication and processing. His classmates, in including William and initiating conversations with him, never gave up. Yet at the same time, they never lost their sensitivity to his need to sometimes just go off and have some time on his own. We had discussed before William came to join the class that sometimes he would want to have his own space and that he wasn't being rude. William spent time with his peer group friends outside of school and has established some firm friendships.
So, why was this a successful inclusion outcome for this particular pupil? Was it because of the Catholic ethos of the school, which nurtures empathy, caring and sensitivity in all the pupils? Was it that this group of pupils found an enabling empathy within themselves which at that moment matched William's developmental need to communicate. Was it that William was at a stage in his development when he needed meaningful peer group interactions to draw out his innate communication skills, and inclusion enabled this? The benefits to William have been clear and demonstrable in terms of his academic attainment and his social skills. What was less predictable, and a privilege to witness, was how the other pupils in the class responded so positively to William and how they developed their understanding of how to support a pupil like William.
My experience of inclusion has more recently been widened to teaching a pupil with Asperger's. Only recently assessed, this pupil has been educated entirely in mainstream classes. He does not have a statement and is not supported by a 1-1 teaching assistant. He often withdraws into his own world but is a very able, bright child with an extensive vocabulary. He is highly kinaesthetic and rarely completes work, particularly written work, without 1-1 support, and this is not always possible. However, he can sometimes exhibit violent behaviour and severe tantrums if faced with changes to routine or something which he finds irrational or unexplained or simply not what he wants to happen. The pupils in this class are not any less kind, caring or willing to help. But I would have to say their responses, particularly their empathy, have been tempered by their experiences of upsetting behaviour in the classroom, corridor and playground. The challenge of inclusion has to be in making this pupil's experience, as well as the pupils that he is taught with, an equally successful outcome as it was for William and his classmates.
Joyce Massé Class teacher
St Augustine's RC Primary School, Lincolnshire.
William and Luc
For a great many years I have been telling people that inclusion benefits all children. This was something that I believed and felt that I had seen, but only at a distance. When I had chosen a school for my boys I had hoped that they would be educated with their disabled peers but inclusion is little practiced where I live so this had not been the case.
My youngest son, Luc, loves to go to school because it enables him to see his friends. He is excitable around other children, which has not always endeared him to his teacher, he has never been able to remember to put his hand up before calling out or to resist chatting when he is supposed to be listening. At home too he tends to be over-assertive and argumentative with his friends to the point that I have been anxious that they would stop coming to play.
At the end of last term we received a school report that I struggled to believe was his. It started by talking about his caring and considerate nature, his respect and awareness of others, and the whole report is positive. As I read it to him I couldn't resist teasing him that it belonged to some other little boy and we laughed and were delighted together.
I did not have to think long about what had brought about this transformation. This year Luc has become good friends with William. The first time William came to our house to play I was amazed by how Luc behaved. He remained quiet and calm throughout the visit, asked William what he would like to do and did it without arguing, and generally showed care and consideration that I did not know he was capable of. We had heard lots of stories about William, about funny things he had said and his wonderful dancing - in fact our meal-times were peppered with William quotes! In answer to my questions Luc had told me that William was "a little bit autistic" and had explained the need to be quieter and calmer around him and explain things carefully.
It is not just Luc who has learned from William. They are in a class blessed with quite a number of very loud and talkative boys who all manage to gain control over themselves out of respect for William. I look forward to his visits for the enjoyment of his character and personality and for the calm that he brings to my own household. The children in the class are familiar with the concept of them all having gifts. Luc thinks William's gift is to bring fun and light.
William has recently become interested in the concept of ambition. During a recent meal he asked everyone around the table what their ambition was. When it was my turn I said that I wanted to write a book and 'change the world'. William immediately responded "Oh no Anne, don't change the world, it's wonderful just as it is!"
Anne Emerson, parent
Special Needs Schools in England - Dramatic Rise in Black Pupils
Education, Education, Education" was the mantra that marked Tony Blair's Labour leadership in the UK, backed by billions pumped into the education sector. For instance, during Labour's tenure, core 'per pupil' funding for schools rose by just over 100% over 13 years to 2010.
Despite such efforts, there is a group of pupils for whom mainstream education is steadily moving out of their grasp. These are black pupils assessed as having special educational needs, the vast majority of them boys. It is these pupils who increasingly find themselves segregated in special needs schools or 'special schools' as they are commonly known.
Pupils in special schools have a 'Statement of Special Educational Needs', a legal document which details the pupil's special educational need, the additional support required and the designated school. Special educational needs can vary from mild learning and emotional or behavioural difficulties to more severe physical or mental disabilities requiring one-to-one support.
Black Pupils in Special Needs Schools
In 2003, there were 2,990 black pupils in special schools accounting for 3.39% of the total of 88,170. By 2010, the figure has risen to 4570 accounting for 5.32% of 85,890 pupils in special schools. This represents a rise of 52.8%.
The Department for Education (DfE) flags up key points in their statistics including the fact that in 2010 most pupils walked to their mainstream school whereas special school pupils travelled by bus. Remarkably, the rise in the number of black pupils in special schools is not mentioned in the key points. It confirms the "marginal status of race equality" pointed out by Peter Wanless in a report on black pupil exclusions.
There are nearly 18% of pupils with special educational needs but the majority are provided for in mainstream schools. Less than 3% hold statements and it is these pupils who are most likely to find themselves in special schools. As there is no parallel rise in impairments for black pupils, questions have been raised as to why so many black pupils find themselves in the special school sector.
The Black Community and Special Educational Needs (SEN)
Concern on the over-representation of black pupils in the then ESN (Educationally Subnormal) schools was first raised in the mid 1960s, concretised in 1971 by Bernard Coard's booklet 'How the West Indian child is made educationally subnormal in the British school system.' Mr Coard's thesis led to the burgeoning of the Supplementary School Movement for black children, more popularly known as 'Saturday schools'. He argued that it was near impossible for black pupils placed in special schools to move into the mainstream.
In 2004, a report by Parents for Inclusion on the experiences of black and ethnic minority families with a disabled child concluded that "The way BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) disabled children are treated by the education system is probably the result of unintentional racism . . . Institutional racism therefore acts as a huge barrier to social inclusion for these disabled children."
Education Ministers on SEN
In 1997, in 'Excellence for All Children', the then Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, proclaimed: "The great majority of children with SEN will, as adults, contribute economically. That is a strong reason for educating children with SEN, as far as possible, with their peers. Where all children are included as equal partners in the school community, the benefits are felt by all." Despite this rhetoric, the number of pupils in special schools has more or less remained constant overall except rising for black pupils.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education in the newly formed coalition government in the UK, has no current initiatives to tackle this inequality.
A spokesperson for the DfE told the author: "There has been a considerable increase in the number of black pupils in all schools over the past seven years and this is reflected in an increase in the population of black pupils placed in special schools. Better assessment for pupils with SEN may also have contributed to the increase."
'Core' funding refers to the total revenue and capital per pupil combined.
Black pupil numbers here refer to 'Black Caribbean', 'Black African' and 'Any other Black background' only.
For full source list see the article here:
This article was first published in August 2010 at suite101.com
Aiming High - Where are we going?
Over 14 years ago, when Elsa was just a tiny baby, we were offered a free trip to the seaside in a taxi with hundreds of other disabled children and their families. I still feel a tinge of guilt when I remember how I exploded at the woman who offered the invitation. ‘We don't want charity, we don't need pity, we want to do what other families are doing’. She'd never met a parent like me who just refused to be grateful and demanded rights.
The offers of such trips receded, maybe people knew better than to offer them to my family, but I really think there were less around - until this year - when Aiming High* money has started to be used for segregated outings. It is reminiscent of the coach trips I went on with my mum and brother as a child, a sort of safety in numbers back in the days that we regularly got asked to leave places because 'that type' of person wasn't welcome. We had to hire a church hall for eating in and changing, there were no accessible loos. As a child I knew it wasn't the right way to have a day trip, and I'm even more convinced now.
It seems that families are being bedazzled by the freebies into not noticing that the support and opportunities needed for their children to live ordinary lives just isn't there. As long as people are getting the trappings of consumer life and being lulled into an artificial community, there is no need for disabled children and their families to engage in their local community. When we are divided from our natural communities everyone loses out - but most importantly, our children miss the opportunity to develop relationships with their peers who will act as natural advocates, and with local shops and businesses who could provide them with work opportunities later on, and with a source of PA's who are embedded in the local community.
We need to speak up and make it clear that there is a big difference between peer support for disabled children and their families and coach trips. Yet another generation is being poisoned by the charity model, the numbers of families acting as allies and choosing inclusion is not growing. I would like to challenge each of you to divert at least one family from that path this year - let's start rolling the snowballs this winter and use the opportunity of cuts to engage people with real communities. Inclusion isn't about just financial resources, a good attitude goes a lot further and is more sustainable than a cash boost.
*Aiming High refers to a pot of money from Government to revamp services for families of Disabled Children. The money came as a recommendation from the 2007 ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families’ report. £419m was disproportionately split between ‘short breaks’ (respite care), accessible child care, transition and for parent participation. The vast majority of the money went on providing ‘short breaks’ which in the main has been soaked up by traditional providers of respite care so very little innovation has happened. No funds were ring fenced for participation opportunities for disabled children and young people despite the title of the report! For many families and their disabled young people the monies, which come to an end in March 2011, have made very little difference to their lives and has had even less impact on service design and delivery. Ed.
The Cliff, the Coat-tails and the Helicopter
This is the metaphor I often use to explain the experience of working with young people with challenging behaviour and emotional turmoil when training staff. It looks at how it feels to do the work and where the impact often comes.
There is a cliff towards which some young people seem to be drawn irresistibly. For some it is the lure of criminal activity and it's associated harm. For others it is substance abuse, gang culture, abusive relationships, rejection of education. Over the cliff edge are wasted lives of imprisonment, dependency and poverty.
As they rush towards the cliff, those of us charged with guiding these young people stand pointing towards the direction of safety. The young people rush past us, heedless. The more determined among us grab hold of their coat tails and hang on.
The process can be brutal, we are dragged along, into dirt, over rocks, through bushes. Some of us cannot hang on very long. We try to be tenacious, but our strength is limited. At last, even the strongest lets go and rolls painfully to a stop. Once we catch our breath we sit up. Looking around, we see our colleagues, brushing away dirt, soothing bruises and scratches. 'That was horrible', we say. 'I tried to hold on, but it was no use', someone adds. Wearily, we trudge back to await the next wave. We do not feel we have done any good.
High above us a helicopter hovers. From their vantage point they can see what we cannot, that only the young people that no one held onto went over the cliff. The rest, dragging us along, changed course. Imperceptibly at first, but then more definitively they swerved. By the time the last person let go they were moving in a different direction. Some came very close to the edge, but missed it and carried on. Only the people left in the dust were unaware of this development, and returned to their work convinced of its futility.
In July 2010 I attended and presented a week long seminar in Santander, Spain, on implementing Inclusive Education. With a population of 46 million and a weaker economic position than the UK, progress towards inclusive education is being systematically approached with full Government support. This is in stark contrast to the UK, who are still the only country out of 90 that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to reserve on implementing Article 24 on Inclusive Education and being still committed to 'removing the bias to inclusive education'. The conference was addressed by Pablo Pineda, an actor, and a person with Down's Syndrome. Born in 1974 in Malaga, and supported by his mother in going to mainstream kindergarten and schools, he graduated from high school and went to university to study Psycho-Pedagogy. Pablo wants to be a teacher and is completing his Masters, while he works for the Town Council.
"This was unthinkable when I started at school there were just so many barriers. Now it is easier, but there are still many things to be done", Pablo told us. "I still remember my first day at university. The faculty had never taught a person with DS - to have me as a student, rather than a subject was a clash of paradigms - they thought it was impossible. I did not know how to behave and my class mates had never seen someone like me at university. Was I capable of learning? I had my doubts. There was only one curriculum with no adaptations. I was done no favours. I demonstrated through hard work my academic skills, but this only illuminated the faculty's concerns. Later my peers accepted me and one lecturer went out of his way to support me. They were more demanding of me than of non-disabled students. It is important that lecturers have no prejudice as there are now lots of students with disabilities. Let's humanise education and welcome those left out. Is education about values or content? Education has to do with the co-existence of these two. Access, culture and knowledge are all important. Let us do as much as we can to develop people's basic gifts. What do I do in the classroom now I am learning to be a teacher? I motivate and sensitise students and allow students to learn at their own pace and in their own way. At my high school I never felt left out. They were happy days. When I performed in plays everyone clapped. I also needed time to myself to reflect and learn. The struggle for equality is very gratifying. I was supported by my peers. At home I was not over-protected. I was the youngest of four and I had my own household tasks to complete. Much still needs to be done, but things are improving. There are many disabled students at university, they get support and there are more disabled lecturers. Teachers should never say 'this child cannot learn', they need to motivate and make it understandable. Teachers need to find out the needs and characteristics of pupils and adapt to their needs and be proactive. Teachers need to do research in different, practical ways, close to their students. In Malaga we argue for heterogeneous classes. We follow the path to be innovative, democratic and tolerant." Pablo recently starred in the award winning film, 'Yo Tambien'( Me Too). Pablo plays a 35 year old man with Down's Syndrome, who has graduated from university and goes to work in an office, where he develops a relationship with a non-disabled woman.
For a longer interview with Pablo Pineda see: http://www.disabilityworld.org/
The Spanish State's School Council consists of 105 representatives from Government, Families, Students, Teachers Unions, Business, Private schools, Universities, Town Councils, Women's Organisations, CERMI (disabled organisations) and School Councils from 17 autonomous regions. In June, the State Schools Council approved and published a report 'Quality inclusive education is the objective'. According to a school census in 2007/2008, 97% of disabled children aged 6 to 15 are in school. 19.1% attend special schools, 32.2% in resourced classes, 45.9% in ordinary classes.
By 2008-2009, 77.8% of disabled pupils were attending ordinary schools, with 91% hearing impaired and 94% visually impaired pupils in mainstream; 80% of those with physical impairments were in mainstream. In the 1990s following the Salamanca statement there was a big push to Inclusion, but in the years following things began to drift and little progress was made. Legislation favouring equality and access in 2003 and Inclusive education, transition for disabled students into work and educational support framed Spain's ratification of the UNCRPD. The progress towards inclusive education is now much more unified. Some of the incentive for this comes from a survey of 25 to 44 years olds, which show only 0.9% of non-disabled people cannot read compared to 8.9% of disabled people unable to read. For completion of primary education (a former grade system) only 7.7% non-disabled people have not completed compared to 23.3% disabled people.
Now the focus is on 'an inclusive education for all, with all'. This reactivation of inclusive education is encouraged by Ministry and autonomous region governments providing: Provision of human and physical resources
Flexible school organisation and curriculum adaptations
Training Plans and Awareness for Teachers
Improvements in teacher/student ratios
New regulation of economic support and grants.
Quoting UNESCO, the State Council plan asserts that the goal is 'Inclusive schools which provide a new understanding of education that goes beyond curriculum, organisation and methodological challenges: a shared project of the educational community and society as a whole'. Some of the best practices reported at the conference came from the autonomous co-operative schools run on socialistic principles by teachers and the community. There are some 500 such schools in Spain and they are a reminder that after the dictatorship of Franco, Spain underwent a social revolution, the echoes of which still have resonance in the entire population. The Spanish Union of Teaching Cooperatives (U.E.C.O.E) is the only representative body at a state level of those teaching centres whose legal form is that of teaching co-operative societies.
At the recent UN Conference of State Parties, 2 young people with Down's Syndrome from Spain, launched their 'Guide UNCRPD comments by its Protagonists'. This was the result of a consultation with 150 Spanish young people with Down's Syndrome, identifying human rights abuses and what they want:
see http://www.sindromedown.net/ for videos and more information.
Learning About Inclusion at Leeds Metropolitan
A snow-covered rugby pitch formed the backdrop for the Leeds Metropolitan University School of Education's Inclusion Conference for student teachers, in January 2010. The conference at Headingley Carnegie Rugby Stadium, which provides teaching space for Leeds Met, was attended by over 100 second year students, marking the beginning of an inclusion module and offering most students their very first introduction to the notion of inclusive education.
Keynote speaker for the conference was inclusion activist and writer Maresa MacKeith, assisted by Caroline MacKeith. Maresa, 25, gave an engrossing introduction to her personal struggle to ensure her right to education within mainstream schooling. Some student delegates were moved to tears, they were so shocked by her story. As Maresa shared her vision for a truly inclusive mainstream education system, she paused to invite questions and reflections from the floor. Several of the students shared their experience of having siblings with impairments.
'We are all part of a society and school is the place where we all could go to meet a broad spectrum of people who will teach us how to be part of a network larger than our family', said Maresa. 'If we go to a special place for only people like ourselves, how are we going to learn how to give and receive ideas in a dynamic way?
'Maresa's presentation was sharply focused', said Helen Toft, Senior Lecturer on the Education Studies BA (Hons) programme, 'providing well selected and appropriate background information whilst posing many challenges to each student. Maresa's 'presence' was stunning and her multi-media and sensory presentation offered many insights. The whole speech was a wake-up and clarion call for inclusion!'
After a break, students participated in a specially-commissioned interactive performance by the group Parking is an Obstruction. Designed to provoke personal responses from the students, the 40-minute performance combined physical comedy, projections and film, exploring themes raised in Maresa's speech and her writing.
'We took inspiration for this performance from being in a teaching environment, based in a rugby stadium,' said Ange Taggart, of Parking is an Obstruction, 'and built direct references to teaching and sports into the performance. At times we were coaches, referees and a teacher. It wasn't like a traditional play and we ruled out the audience just sitting passively. Instead, the audience were encouraged to move around the different parts of the performance and to engage with us.'
Helen Toft reflected, 'If we stick to the status quo of simply telling students about inclusion, we do not actually engage all the senses they are capable of exploring. The interweaving of technology, comedy and relationships, as well as the space and the objects found in it, made us confront our core thinking about ourselves and others, both physically and emotionally. It was different from any other kind of drama I've attended which had a similar intention, as it included the students 'in the moment', more than just as a passive audience.'
Maresa and Caroline experienced the performance alongside the student-teachers, who fed back their experiences post-performance, giving space to wide-ranging personal responses to both the performance and the conference as a whole. Two months on, Nick Mitchell, Tutor in Education Studies at Leeds Met, said his group of students 'demonstrated that anyone who had a link with a sibling or child with special needs was supported by the performance into talking about barriers to being part of society.
Others thought it was really challenging for them personally to have to take responsibility, but I've noticed that their subsequent presentations have been much deeper than previous ones - so I think it's important something similar is used at the beginning of the project, each time it runs. It really makes them sit up and think about the issues.' Helen Toft summed up the relevance of the conference in the wider context of the student's development: "'Discomfort' is an essential requirement for learning. Being asked to 'see the funny side' of our responses to diversity - with the biggest heart at its core - was what made the performance both 'uncomfortable' and 'memorable.'"
For more on the writing and activism of Maresa MacKeith, visit www.one-for-all.org.uk and for more on Parking is an Obstruction, go to www.parkingisanobstruction.com
"I want to teach everyone how beautiful Inclusion is and how it benefits everyone always"
Cause for celebration: The first accredited Inclusion Training Pathway - an 18 month course for parents of disabled children - ended in July successfully.
Parents for Inclusion has offered an in depth skill and capacity building programme for parents of disabled children since 1997. In 2007 we were successful in a bid to City Bridge Trust for a pilot run of a time limited and accredited version of it. 20 parents of disabled children of different ages and from different boroughs committed in January 2009 to this course and were registered with the accrediting body 'Open College Network'. The training covered three broad themes:
Disability equality, diversity and inclusion - a Human Rights perspective, the legal framework and parents' role as ally to disabled people.
Applying the social model of disability and active listening skills in the work with other parents of disabled children - the Parents for Inclusion Model.
Tools for inclusion and inclusive community building: Person centred planning, circle of friends, MAPS and restorative solutions as examples.
Undoubtedly 'pilot project' stands for: lots of learning for everyone involved, including the Pi Training Team. In the final feedback the parents on the course agreed how important the learning with and from one another has been, what a joy to witness each other grow in confidence and competence and how valuable and encouraging to experience inclusion 'for real'.
As far as our three original objectives go, which we got funded for, namely:
To accredit the Inclusion Training Pathway.
For the parents on the course to learn what it means to facilitate inclusive lives for their children and to become equipped with the necessary skills.
For the parents to become active agents of the change towards disability equality and inclusion.
We can proudly announce that these have been well achieved! What a powerful group of parent allies developed over the months!
Towards the end of the 18 months the parents planned, carried out and then reported on a small project of their choice. These projects are the very best illustration of all that has been achieved and learnt in so many ways more than 'aims and objectives' can ever describe. This is what some of the parents did:
'Inclusion is a Celebration'
Egidija created a 5 star welcome at her home for Lithuanian parents of disabled children and their children. She read them her own version of a Welcome song to her daughter and she passed on everything she had learned about the tools for inclusion, the social model of disability and the importance of inclusion for everyone, as well as about rights and benefits.
'Meet the Author of Dear Parents'
Huma had organised a poetry reading with Micheline Mason at a bookshop in Newham. She hosted the event, which lots of people attended, including the Mayor of Newham.
'Getting to school in time is expected of everyone. Why is my daughter stopped from turning up in time?'
Husna worked with her daughter, the school of her daughter and the school transport department in the borough, the drivers and escorts to effect a seemingly small change: Making sure that the children who rely on school transport are on time like everyone else. Being motivated by being an ally to her daughter and being well informed showed Husna to be a trustworthy leader, who other parents and the school are now turning to.
'Being at the park'
An experiment of creating fun time after school in the local park which works for Jenny's daughter and her friends. With great insight and respect for her daughter, the other young people and their parents, Jenny tackled an issue which so many parents struggle with: How to support friendship.
'My parents' perspective'
Betty spoke at a training event for social workers and nurses about the difference that support based on the social model has made to her son's life and her relationship with her son.
'It is not nice to leave people out'
Sam prepared an access audit of a primary school with five Year 5 children. Together they reported on their findings at a whole school assembly. The children loved being involved, getting stuck in and had lots of excellent ideas of their own.
Training team: Cornelia Broesskamp (course manager), Pam Hall, Zelda McCollum, Yasmin Andersen, Cath Ford, Sarifa Patel, Linda Whitehead.
The inclusion movement has so sadly lost a sparkling innovator, pioneer and star. Zahrah Manuel passed away last May aged just 22.
I met Zahrah many years ago in the early days of the campaign trail. She and my daughter were fighting for a place in their neighbourhood schools. We marched together, burnt statements together, presented our petitions together; and shared many hours letting others know that inclusive schooling should be a right and the only way to ensure an inclusive life. There were times when I and my family despaired and nearly lost heart. But seeing how Zahrah and her mother never gave up despite so many obstacles kept us going and holding on to the dream.
Zahrah was absolutely inspirational as she always lived that dream. Although we didn't see each other often over the years, we nevertheless spent some fun times together. I also kept up with how Zahrah was doing at school, and how she was continually trailblazing and helping others learn a great deal.
My best memory was on a delightful boat trip down the Thames to celebrate Zahrah's 18th birthday. The boat was filled with Zahrah's friends and relatives, dressed in gorgeous Mexican colours. How beautiful Zahrah looked that day in her fabulous dress and how she exuded pleasure, as her young school friends stood by her sharing in the celebrations with her. It was a moment in time that absolutely confirmed in my mind and heart that inclusive education is the key for all our futures.
I know in Zahrah's short life she made many friends, Atiha and Guy amongst them and also loved her thama (grandmother) and cousins. She will be so sorely missed, particularly by her Mum who loved her so dearly. Zahrah loved life and taught so many so much. Her Mum Preethi describes her as exuberant with a sense of mischief; and how much fun they had together. You can just see them in the cinema with their 3D glasses enjoying Avatar. Or Zahrah squealing with laughter at a silly film like "Burn after Reading". She loved her life so much, and though there were times of struggle she was always so strong and fearless.
Dear Zahrah, the inclusive education movement gained such ground through your important contribution; sharing with others your gifts. Thank you Zahrah for all that you started and will continue because of your brilliance. You will always be remembered.
Rowen Jade - Tribute
Inclusion Now was sorry to hear about the recent death of Rowen Jade. Rowen has been described by friends and fellow disability activists, as a "gentle warrior" and a "force for change".
Rowen and I worked together on the Equality 2025 advisory network to the Government and I always loved her ability to 'manage' civil servants, but her connection with ALLFIE goes back to 1999 when she co-authored Whose Voice is it Anyway?, a hugely influential report on the experiences of young disabled people in special and mainstream schools.
The report had been a "guiding principle" for the organisation ever since and it's what our commitment to young people's participation is based on. Rowen was an incredible woman - a real power house for inclusion and equality and she will be missed by activists and politicians alike.
Legal Questions - No. 1
My local school thinks my child has special educational needs (SEN) - I have asked the Local Authority for a statement and they have said no. What can I do?
This depends on exactly what you have asked the Local Authority (LA) to do. The first step in the statementing procedure is a request by the parent or school for a statutory* assessment of the child's special educational needs. There is a useful letter on the website of IPSEA (Independent Panel for Special Educational Advice).
The SEN Code of Practice provides that the test for deciding whether statutory assessment is necessary is "whether there is convincing evidence that, despite the school, with the help of external specialists, taking relevant and purposeful action to meet the child's learning difficulties, those difficulties remain or have not been remedied sufficiently and may require the LA to determine the child's special educational provision."
The LA must make a decision whether to carry out statutory assessment within six weeks of receiving the request. If it agrees, it should complete the assessment process within a further ten weeks. This involves obtaining advice from a number of sources, including the school, the parents, an educational psychologist and possibly other relevant experts. The time limit can be extended in some circumstances, for example over the school summer holidays. If the LA decides that a statement is required, it must produce a draft statement within two weeks of completing an assessment, and must finalise the statement within eight weeks.
If the LA refuses a statutory assessment, parents have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). The same applies if the LA agree to carry out statutory assessment but refuse to issue a statement.
Full information about how to appeal is given on the SENDIST website: www.sendist.gov.uk/Documents/FormsGuidance/ForParents/HowtoAppealSENDecisionbooklet_9sept10.pdf
The deadline for entering an appeal is two months from the date of the LA's letter notifying the parents of the refusal of statutory assessment or refusal to issue a decision, and the appeal form comes at the end of the booklet at the website address above.
The appeal process is meant to be reasonably informal and parent-friendly. It normally takes about 20 weeks, unless the LA changes its mind earlier. It is essential to obtain expert evidence from, at the very least, an educational psychologist, to support the parents' case. If the school supports the request, then evidence from them will also obviously be very helpful. Full details of the procedure are set out on the SENDIST website.
Therefore the answer to this question is that, if you have made a formal request for statutory assessment which has been refused, or if the LA has carried out assessment but has refused to issue a statement, you should appeal to the tribunal. If no formal request has been made, it needs to be sent as soon as possible.
*Statutory - a legal obligation
Eleanor Wright is a partner at Maxwell Gillott Solicitors.
Maxwell Gillott is a firm of specialist solicitors, providing legal advice and assistance for clients who face difficulties with the key public services of education, health and social services.
If you have any legal questions send them in to Inclusion Now and we will see if we can answer them.
Celebrating Our Lives, Challenging Disabilism, Achieving Equality
22nd November to 22nd December 2010 and annually!
Disability History Month is supported by 33 organisations - Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs), Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who have come together to pledge their support and agree the focus of the month. Please organise an event at your school, college, community or workplace during Disability History Month. We want to :
Celebrate our struggles and achievements as disabled people with our allies - parents, friends, professionals, work place colleagues or neighbours.
Create a greater understanding of the barriers we face both today and in the past and how such barriers and inhuman treatment are fuelled by negative attitudes and customs, underpinned by oppressive disablism.
Develop and campaign on what needs to be changed for disabled people to achieve full equality in all areas of life.
Make equality a daily reality. The UK Government have passed the Equalities Act 2010 and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Much has to happen to make these Rights a daily reality for the 12 million disabled children and adults in the UK.
We want to cover the full range of impairments and link with disabled people also struggling against sexism, racism and homophobia and other forms of discrimination.
Disability History month is already supported by three important education unions: National Union of Teachers, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and University and College Union and the Trade Union Congress Disabled Workers Committee which will help schools, colleges and workplaces, throughout the UK, to organise events and a focus in the curriculum.
Other supporters include ALLFIE, Parents for Inclusion, CSIE, NCIL, Change, Dis Lib, UKDPC, RADAR, SCOPE and a number of regional DPOs are supporting and will be holding events during the month. These will be publicised on the website: www.ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com
See the website for information on how you can get involved in Disability History Month and for information and activities to do during the month.
Richard Rieser, Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Collaborative Video Screening
VSA, the international organisation on Arts and Disability, with partners from around the world will celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2010 through a collaborative video screening designed to generate public awareness and support for this year's theme, Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond. On the evening of December 3, selected partners will screen a video by the artist Simon Mckeown on various outdoor public buildings. Mckeown is internationally recognised for his moving digital sculpture, Motion Disabled, which uses motion-capture technology to record the physical movements of people with disabilities. http://www.motiondisabled.com
For more information, visit www.vsarts.org or contact: December3@vsarts.org